Vernon Hills hangs on to down Northridge Prep
Ryan Jacobson found out the real part of the Battle at the Ridge Tournament by hitting the floor a couple of times in the final quarter on Wednesday night.
The Vernon Hills senior was like a boxer that went down, but he was a fighter with grit and determination to finish the game. He knocked down a couple of key free throws in the final minute that helped Vernon Hills to defeat host Northridge Prep 46-40 in Niles.
Jacobson had first hurt his knee going up for a rebound with 2:28 left and was on the floor holding his knee in pain. He had some help and limped his way back to the bench. However, he returned back to the floor 45 seconds later, then went up and blocked a key Knights' layup attempts and again was on the floor in pain.
For a second time, he was helped back to the bench, but returned for a third time with a minute remaining when he was fouled and then converted two free throws of his game-high 15 points and 5 rebounds with 42.5 seconds left on the clock. Right after that he took himself out of the game.
"We had lost to these guys last year," Jacobson said. "I wanted to win so bad and it's my senior year. When I knew I could run a little bit, I knew I was ready to go. Making those free throws were tough, but I know adrenaline is valuable. As for the knee, I'm thinking it's a bone bruise. I should be OK for Friday, I hope."
The Cougars are off to their best start in a few years being 2-0, but they're missing starter Michael Moore, who is out with a knee injury.
"It's been a good game with (Northridge Prep) the last few years," Vernon Hills coach Mike McCarty said. "Always, a real good game with them and it's always a tough matchup for us. The start was fantastic and we couldn't ask for a better start. Our kids knew that was a big aspect of the game. They followed the game plan to a 'T' and finished."
Vernon Hills started with a 14-0 advantage before Northridge Prep (0-2) found a basket late in the opening quarter. The Cougars led 16-7 after the first 8 minutes and 21-18 at the break.
The Knights took their only lead of the game at 22-21 on Andrew Brockmeier's 3-pointer with 5:45 left in the third.
Tony Brown answered on the Cougars' side with a trey of his own that put Vernon Hills back in front 24-22 with 5:20 remaining and the Cougars led 29-27 going into the final quarter. .
"My team kept me going," Brown said. "They kept me up and they wanted to keep shooting. I was motivated and wanted to hit it. It was a turning point for sure. It got us back the momentum."
Vernon Hills took over in the final stages of the game, making 11 of 15 free throws and extended the lead out to 9 points.
The Cougars will next play Sullivan Friday at 4 p.m.