Rough nights at the foul line are about as infrequent for Vernon Hills' girls basketball team as losses.
So consider things back to normal for the Cougars after they went 18 of 23 from the line in their state tournament-opening, 63-33 win over St. Edward in the teams' Class 3A regional semifinal at Lakes on Tuesday night.
Brie Bahlmann equaled her season-high of 15 points to pace four players in double figures, as top-seeded Vernon Hills (26-2) advanced to Thursday's 7:30 p.m. regional final against host Lakes (17-12), a 67-32 winner over Gordon Tech in the evening's second semifinal.
No. 18 St. Edward, which knocked off No. 15 Chicago Senn in Monday's play-in game, finished 4-25. Clarissa Ramos sank three 3-pointers and scored 13 points for the Green Wave, while sophomore post Cece Rapp posted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"We didn't have the level of play that we were hoping for tonight," St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson said. "We kind of got in foul trouble early, and I think that affected us taking care of the ball a little bit."
Vernon Hills hadn't played since overcoming 11-of-23 shooting from the free-throw line to edge Zion-Benton for its first North Suburban Conference championship. The Cougars got to the stripe early against St. Edward, with Bahlmann going 3 of 4 and Sydney Smith making 2 of 2 in the opening quarter.
"(The NSC title game) was a fluke," Smith said of the Cougars' troubles at the line, especially in the fourth quarter, when they were just 5 of 15. "For some reason, we have this thing where we make just enough to get by. I think we loosened up a lot tonight."
When Lauren Webb beat the first-quarter buzzer with a 19-footer, the defending Class 3A state runner-up led 18-9.
Vernon Hills' DePaul-bound center Meri Bennett-Swanson also had a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Smith had 13 points and 9 boards, while Webb scored 13 points. Alina Lehocky collected 8 rebounds coming off the bench.
Vernon Hills had 14 offensive rebounds in building a 42-14 advantage by halftime. Bennett-Swanson hit all 3 of her shots in the third quarter, as the Cougars increased their advantage to 58-24.
"We had a bunch of offensive boards, and we minimized how many they had," Smith said. "We executed. We got play after play. We got rebound after rebound. We got shots up, and we got fouled. We just played like a team."
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