Vernon Hills' boys basketball team hit the road in pursuit of its first win this season against a Central Suburban North foe.
A key missing piece made that goal remain elusive on Friday night.
The Cougars got off to a slow start and were having a hard time getting the ball to drop into the basket -- and that was even before they lost one of their starters, senior Derrick Jones, to an ankle injury early in the second quarter.
Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said Jones was taken to nearby Lutheran General to have X-rays taken.
The Cougars made the best of the rest of the game but ended up falling 62-36 to Maine East in Park Ridge.
"He said it wasn't good," said McCarty, relating Jones' comment as he came off the court. "Obviously, losing him hurt us and he was playing well, and had been playing well in practice the last couple of days."
Vernon Hills (5-11, 0-5) had fallen behind Maine East 14-6 after the first quarter. The Blue Demons' defense got even better in the second quarter, during which the Cougars scored just 4 points and endured a seven-and-a-half minute scoring drought.
Maine East (6-10, 1-4) outscored Vernon Hills 11-4 in the period and led 25-10 at the break.
In the third quarter, the Cougars put together a 7-2 run which included a Luke Perlin 3 to cut the lead to 27-18 with 6:25 left. But the Blue Demons wouldn't let Vernon Hills get any closer and went on a 20-8 run of their own for a 47-26 lead by the end of the quarter.
"We're not going to win many games with just 10 points at halftime," McCarty said. "We did come out with some good energy (in the third quarter), but then we lost our composure. If you can't keep your composure, it's just tough to win. It's not good on our part. Credit Maine East -- they shot the ball well. They have some guys that are quick off the dribble and it was tough to match up against."
Payton Foster led the Cougars with 12 points and Tony Brown added 10.
Maine East was paced by Ali Sabet with 17 points and Yash Singapori chipped in with 14 off the bench.
"I thought we did a good job defensively," Maine East coach Dave Genis said. "We rotated well and I knew they like to do a lot of dribble penetration and then kick the ball out. We did a nice job of containing some gaps that might have caused some frustration in the second quarter.
"We played with a lot of poise and we didn't let them rattle us. After (Vernon Hills) cut into the lead, we came back with good answers for everything they threw at us."