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Article updated: 12/4/2013 11:09 PM
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George, Carmel shoot past Vernon Hills
 

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George, Carmel shoot past Vernon Hills
  • Carmel's Billy Kirby, left, tries to pass around Vernon Hills' Robby Nardini on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic.

    Purchase Photo | Carmel's Billy Kirby, left, tries to pass around Vernon Hills' Robby Nardini on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Carmel's John George drive past Vernon Hills' Matt Weaver on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic.

    Purchase Photo | Carmel's John George drive past Vernon Hills' Matt Weaver on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Vernon Hills' Lem Turner, right, blocks the shot of Carmel's Lee Bowen on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic.

    Purchase Photo | Vernon Hills' Lem Turner, right, blocks the shot of Carmel's Lee Bowen on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Carmel's Billy Kirby saves a ball from going out of bounds agains Vernon Hills on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic.

    Purchase Photo | Carmel's Billy Kirby saves a ball from going out of bounds agains Vernon Hills on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  The Carmel bench celebrates after a timeout against Vernon Hills on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic.

    Purchase Photo | The Carmel bench celebrates after a timeout against Vernon Hills on Wednesday night at Carmel Catholic. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 

The long jump shot, which complements his inside play, is something Carmel Catholic senior Jack George has had in his repertoire since he was little.

Not that he was ever little.

Story Continues Below

"I pride myself on being a versatile player who can play inside and out," the 6-foot-10 George said.

In a showdown with fellow unbeaten Vernon Hills on Wednesday night, Carmel could be thankful for its veteran center knocking down a couple of long baseline shots as well as another medium-range jumper. That's because Cougars junior center Lem Turner was wielding his long arms and wreaking havoc in the paint.

In the end, host Carmel hit enough shots over Turner and knocked down enough free throws when Vernon Hills got close to pull out a 56-50 nonconference win.

Carmel, which got 14 points and 11 rebounds from George and 14 points as well from Michael Barr, improved to 5-0. Robby Nardini's 21 points led Vernon Hills (4-1).

The 6-5 Turner blocked 5 shots, grabbed 6 rebounds, took a charge and also came up with a steal. He even blocked George -- twice.

"He was really good defending," George said. "He definitely had some hops. I was surprised, because in the summer league at Stevenson we played Vernon Hills and Michael (Barr) and I kind of had our way with him. He definitely made me think twice about going up a couple of times."

Turner, who already has a volleyball scholarship offer from Ball State, boasts a 37-inch vertical jump.

"Most people think that I can't jump that high," said Turner, who had 6 blocks and 10 rebounds in the Cougars' tournament title-clinching win against Leyden at Northridge Prep last Saturday night. "I try to take advantage of them underestimating me."

Carmel was in control most of the night, bolting to a 20-6 lead late in the first quarter, as Billy Kirby (5 points, 7 rebounds) and Lee Bowen (8 points) each sank a 3-pointer. A slowed-down pace in the second quarter had the Corsairs up 26-18 at halftime, before George showed off his range by hitting a trio of field goals in helping stretch the home team's lead to 39-27 after three.

The Vernon Hills deficit was 44-29 early in the fourth when the Cougars made a push. Bo Manso drained a couple of shots, including a 3, and Matt Weaver's second 3-pointer of the quarter got Vernon Hills within 46-40 with 2:55 left.

"I kept asking our kids just to bring the fight," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "No one on our bench gave up. We started forcing some turnovers. Our zone got a little more active, we got some tips and deflections, and we made a couple of shots."

Sam Rattner's 3 with 46 seconds left drew Vernon Hills within 53-49, but 2 free throws by George and 1 by Nickai Poyser (7 points, 11 rebounds) helped the Corsairs hang on.

"We had a great start in the first quarter, and then in the second quarter we just mentally and physically lost it for a little bit," Kirby said. "They were able to come back. We gave them confidence, and that allowed them to get in the game and give us a fight."

Carmel -- which also got 8 points and 8 rebounds from Chris Duff -- hit 8 of 13 free throws in the fourth. Nardini went 7 of 8 from the line in the quarter to help keep Vernon Hills close.

"Communication," Turner said of the key to the Cougars' comeback. "We were keeping our heads high, thinking we were still in this game and we could win this game, instead of keeping our heads down and thinking, 'How much are we going to lose by?' We were thinking, 'How much can we win by?' "

"I was happy with our effort," McCarty said. "Carmel is just so long and lanky."

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