Vernon Hills' comeback falls short against Deerfield

Vernon Hills' boys basketball team wanted to keep its unbeaten string of victories going. However, Deerfield had something else in mind in the opening game of Central Suburban League North Division play Friday night.

Vernon Hills battled back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit and got within 3 points three times, but the Cougars ended up with a 61-55 defeat in Vernon Hills.

"You have to give Deerfield a lot of credit. I thought their senior leadership showed down the stretch," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "They made plays when they had to. Stepped up and made free throws when they had too. We had no quit in us, but we have things to shore up. We didn't deserve to win that game and Deerfield deserved all the credit to win it."

The Cougars (5-1, 0-1) had more players back from being out sick in recent games. Erik Rimas (4 points, 4 rebounds) and Nolan Lazor were back on the court.

"It was good to have them back," McCarty said. "But we've got to get back to full strength and we've got a lot to work on before our next game (hosting Grayslake Central next Tuesday)."

Vernon Hills found itself down 49-36 with 4:12 left in the game. The Cougars clawed their way back behind the efforts of Max Brusso, who dropped in 4 3-pointers of his game-high 18 points and a 58-55 deficit with 10.4 seconds on the clock.

"I came in and we had the mentality to come back," Brusso said. "It was a team effort. We got the steals and the rebounds. All I did was hit the shots. I was lucky to be in a position to hit the shots, but it was a team effort."

Milan Rival and Justin St. Louis added 15 points apiece for the Cougars.

Deerfield (5-1, 1-0) had Luke Woodson make 3 of 4 free throws of his 13 points in the waning seconds.

"It was a very good win," Deerfield coach Dan McKendrick said. "When you play a team that's undefeated; they have a bunch of guys with varsity experience, and they have a lot pride. You knew that they would make a run. I'm glad we were able to withstand it. But not surprised (Vernon Hills) made a run. They're a good team."

The Warriors were led by Weston Venamore with 14 points and Aidan Galvan added 11.

Deerfield held a 16-9 advantage after the opening quarter and Vernon Hills cut into the lead a bit by halftime and trailed 27-22.

Vernon Hills trailed 34-30 midway through the third quarter. Deerfield closed out the quarter with a 12-3 run and led 45-33 heading into the final quarter before the Cougars' comeback.

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