Perfection the norm for NSC Prairie champion Vernon Hills
Alina Lehocky, "Go Go Gadget Arms" to her Vernon Hills basketball team, might have needed her exceptional hands and arms to pen that long note on the basketball she gave to her parents.
On Senior Day, Lehocky and fellow seniors Brie Bahlmann and Meri Bennett-Swanson penned essay-like thank-you notes to their moms and dads. Each girl's canvas was a brown-and-white basketball. If the ball slipped while writing, starting over would have been time-consuming and potentially expensive, too.
"We were all really careful," Lehocky said.
The Cougars expect perfection — on the basketball court, too.
Vernon Hills completed a perfect run in the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division for the second year in a row Saturday.
Junior forward Lauren Webb scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Lehocky added a season-high 13 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, as the Cougars defeated visiting Lakes 64-39.
Vernon Hills (24-2) finished 12-0 in the NSC Prairie for the second year in a row, while stretching its NSC Prairie winning streak to 29 games. The Cougars will play host Zion-Benton at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the conference-championship game.
"It's exciting to get another chance to play in the conference championship game because last year it didn't go as planned," Lehocky said of last season's loss to Libertyville. "The team is really excited to go 24-0 in the division last season and this season."
Lakes coach Pete Schneider appreciates what the Cougars have accomplished
"I don't think Paul gets enough credit," Schneider said of Vernon Hills coach Paul Brettner. "Yeah, he's got some talent on this team, but I've been here and have seen Paul have to get these kids motivated and get them to play as a team."
As they did at Lakes in December, the Eagles gave the Cougars a game for a while. Nicole Mogged's 2 free throw capped an 8-0 run and pulled Lakes (15-12, 9-3) within 19-17 with 2:06 left before halftime. But Webb scored on a drive, added a free throw and Sydney Smith added a pair of foul shots to extend Vernon Hills' advantage to 24-17 by halftime.
"They move real well on offense, they get good shots, and we were lucky a couple of them didn't fall," Brettner said of the Eagles. "We played a little better defense in that third quarter, and we started moving more on offense. We were pretty stagnant the first half."
The Cougars broke the game open in the third, getting 8 points from Webb in outscoring the Eagles 19-9. Lehocky's 3-pointer in the closing seconds hiked the home team's lead to 43-26.
Lehocky shot 6 of 11 from the floor and also had a steal.
"She gets her hands on things that no one else I've ever had gets hands on," Brettner said. "She's been playing well."
Smith and Bennet-Swanson added 10 points each for the Cougars.
Lakes, which is guaranteed of its first winning season in school history, received 8 points apiece from Amanda Beetschen and Terese McMahon.
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