With her trusty point-guard hands, Lauren Webb cradled not a souvenir string of basketball net, nor the supersectional plaque, nor the game ball, which she so richly deserved.
Rather, the Vernon Hills junior squeezed the Charmin.
Well, a roll of some brand of toilet paper, anyway.
She wasn't about to cry, however. Nor was the player, poised and peppy, about to devilishly head off to TP someone's house.
"My nose is always running, since freshman year," Webb said of why she stashes a roll of toilet paper on the bench. "It's easier than a tissue box."
Vernon Hills' season-long roll continued Monday night with a 39-31 win over pesky-younger-smaller Burlington Central in the Class 3A Hoffman Estates supersectional, earning the 30-2 Cougars a berth downstate for the second year in a row.
A night after the Oscars, Webb played a starring role in a thriller. Only this was real life. High school hoops at its finest.
She scored 9 of her 11 points in the pivotal fourth quarter, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 3 assists. And it was her drive, immediately after a steal and layup by Rockets senior guard Camille Delacruz tied the score at 31-31 with 3:49 left, that put Vernon Hills in front for good.
Webb was so determined that she knocked over a small Rocket bravely defending the hoop.
Webb sank 5-of-5 free throws in the fourth. She completed a three-point play early in the quarter, and her 2 tosses with 1:12 on the clock extended VH's lead to 35-31.
The girl with the constantly runny nose had a nose for the ball, so to speak.
Like any good winner, Webb had plenty of thank you's to deliver afterward.
"I had confidence shooting the free throws because I knew that even if I missed, my team could keep up the great defense that we had," she said. "Clearly, it wasn't our best offensive night, but every time we'd miss a shot, we would take care of it back on defense."
Cougars coach Paul Brettner has trusted the 6-foot Webb to take of the basketball all season, and he hasn't been disappointed. A starting forward on varsity as a freshman and sophomore, Webb showed last summer that she was Vernon Hills' best option to replace the graduated Abby Springer as the team's primary ballhandler.
"We went away to team camp, and she really did a nice job of leading the way," Brettner said. "As a coach, you want to feel comfortable when your point guard's bringing the ball up, and with Lauren, I do."
Webb says she has Division I scholarship offers from Central Michigan, Evansville, Loyola and Kent State. Her future might not be as a point guard in college, but she understands her role on the 2012-13 Cougars.
The point guard gets the point.
Team comes first.
"Well, (playing point guard) is always tough, but I like it," Webb, who played some point guard in sixth and seventh grade, said with a smile. "I like that I have my team to help me out. I know in the backcourt, if I get nervous, they're all there to help me out."
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