2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 11/21/2013 9:26 AM

Girls basketball: Scouting Vernon Hills

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  • Guard Haley Lieberman and her Vernon Hills teammates figure to be kissing postseason hardware again this winter.

      Guard Haley Lieberman and her Vernon Hills teammates figure to be kissing postseason hardware again this winter.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer



Coach: Paul Brettner (14th season)

Last season: 31-3, 12-0 in NSC Prairie, won Class 3A Lakes regional, Vernon Hills sectional and Hoffman Estates supersectional, defeated Montini in state semifinals, lost to Quincy Notre Dame in state championship game

Key losses: C Meri Bennett-Swanson (DePaul), G Brie Bahlmann, F Alina Lehocky

Returning players: Sr. F/G Lauren Webb, Sr. F Sydney Smith, Jr. G Haley Lieberman, Sr. F Shannon Healey, Jr. F Kasey Firnbach, Jr. F Katie Brettmann, Sr. F Katherine Koczwara

Newcomers: So. G Dana Meline, Jr. G Mia Polisky, Jr. F Monica Bahlmann, So. G Danielle Comitor

Outlook: The only thing the Cougars didn't do last season was win the Class 3A state championship. They settled for their second state runner-up finish in a row after a season that saw them win a school-record 31 games and become the first Prairie Division team to capture the NSC championship. "We are looking to compete for our division and have a successful playoff run," said coach Paul Brettner, whose Cougars have won 29 straight games in the NSC Prairie and have gone 12-0 in the division in each of the last two seasons. The Cougars started the season short-handed, however, as Bowling Green-bound Lauren Webb missed the season opener against Maine East. It was the first game the 6-footer has missed in her high school career. "Lauren has a foot injury," Brettner said. "We are not sure when we will get her back. It is a combination of plantar fasciitis and something else in the top of her foot." With Webb out, fellow four-year varsity starter Sydney Smith (5-10) responded with a career-high 29 points in a 65-48 win. Like Webb, the Vermont-bound Smith signed her national letter of intent last week. Webb and Smith are both two-time all-area selections. Webb was the captain of the Daily Herald's Lake County all-area team last season. After playing point guard last winter, she figures to play more at forward this season. Junior guard Haley Lieberman (5-5) also returns to the starting lineup. The Cougars graduated three huge contributors from last season's squad in Meri Bennett-Swanson, Brie Bahlmann and Alina Lehocky, but 5-10 junior Kasey Firnbach is a good athlete who played a lot last season. Brettner promoted a pair of sophomores, both of whom played varsity softball last spring: Dana Meline and Danielle Comitor. A third-straight NSC Prairie title isn't a given for the Cougars after North Chicago added Zion-Benton transfers Samantha Rodriguez and TT Magget to a group that already had talented 6-foot center Tineesha Coleman.

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