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Sydney Smith walked out of Vernon Hills’ locker room with ice wrapped to her left knee. Haley Lieberman got ice to her leg, too, causing her to sit the last half of the second quarter and the first half of the third. And 12-of-45 shooting (27 percent) from the floor and 13 of 23 (57 percent) from the stripe? That’s colder than ice. That’s more frigid than the wind chill outside Tuesday night. “It’s postseason basketball,” Cougars coach Paul Brettner said. “Everybody is fighting tooth and nail defensively, every possession is important, and (the games) are low-scoring affairs for the most part.” Moreover, if you’re playing basketball at this time of the girls season, you’re hot. A two-game losing streak in January aside, Vernon Hills has been tropical-island hot all winter. The Cougars captured their school-record 28th win and, more importantly, the top seed in its own sectional advanced to a sectional final for the second year in a row thanks to a grind-it-out, 39-26 win over fourth-seeded Grayslake Central. Forward Lauren Webb scored a game-high 14 points (9-of-12 foul shooting), and Meri Bennett-Swanson added a double-double for Vernon Hills (28-2), which will face No. 3 Regina Dominican (22-8) in Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game. Regina was a 63-56 winner over 10th-seeded North Chicago in the second semifinal.