Even the distractions that come with senior night and the final home game of the season couldn't derail the rolling train that is the North Chicago boys basketball team. Still, Warhawks coach Gerald Coleman was still concerned.
"There can be a lot of distractions with the final home game and senior night," Coleman said. "But I was glad that we got a chance for all the seniors to play, and play at a high level."
The usual starting five that includes three Division I recruits in Kurt Hall, JayQuan McCloud, and JaVairius Amos-Mays took a back seat to the Warhawk seniors Saturday night in a North Suburban Prairie Division contest with Vernon Hills. The reserves didn't miss a beat.
The senior five put the game in good hands for the Warhawks with an 18-7 lead after one quarter and North Chicago cruised to an 86-51 win over the Cougars.
"I was talking with my assistants the other day, and I said that in my 16 years or so as a coach, this may be the best team I have ever coached against," said Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty. "That's a real good team and I could see how they could go and win the Class 3A state title. That would be great for our league."
Even though they had a tough hill to climb, Vernon Hills (8-12, 4-4) never backed down, nor did the Cougars look intimidated by the high-flying Warhawks. The Cougars on several occasions in the second quarter had the margin under double figures before a 9-0 burst to end the half gave the Warhawks a 37-20 halftime margin.
"We just took the approach that whatever happens tonight, happens, and that we wouldn't back down from anyone," McCarty said.
When the Warhawks starters came back in, it took a while before they got into the flow of the game. Meanwhile, hot outside shooting by the Cougars kept the game close. Dylan McNamara scored 8 of his 11 points in the first half while senior Stephen Curry heated up after halftime to lead Vernon Hills with 16.
North Chicago blew the game open in the third quarter with Amos-Mays and McCloud establishing their own highlight reel of dunk after dunk. The best came late in the third on a missed layup by McCloud that bounced off the rim right into the hands of Amos-Mays for a rim-rattling flush. Amos-Mays led all scorers with 19 while McCloud added 14. Senior starters Travaris Knox (14 points) and Jarrod Coleman (10 points) also hit double digits for the Warhawks.