Down with injuries, but not out, Vernon Hills handles Grant
There's good news and bad news.
First the bad.
Vernon Hills senior center Ryan Jacobson tore his ACL meniscus during the Northridge Prep Thanksgiving tournament last weekend and will miss the rest of the season.
"He's a big part of what we do," said Cougars coach Matt McCarty of Jacobson, who tallied 16 points per game in the two games he did play in.
The Cougars also lost big man in senior center Michael Moore, who has been having cartilage issues in his knee.
"The injury bug has gotten us a little bit in the early going," added the coach. "We're looking for a way to bounce back."
As for the good news, the Cougars did just that on Wednesday when Grant came calling for nonconference boys basketball action.
Vernon Hills used a huge first quarter in pulling away from the Bulldogs, 64-37.
"That's a little better," said McCarty. "It doesn't bring those two guys back but I loved the energy and the way we started the game."
Vernon Hills, which improved to 4-1 overall, scored the first basket of the game and never looked back as senior guard Tony Brown canned a 3-pointer right off the bat.
After a basket by Grant senior guard Mikal Ashley cut the deficit to 3-2, Vernon Hills went on a 15-0 run to end the quarter ahead 18-2.
Senior guard Aiden Isaacson chipped in 7 of his 11 points as Vernon Hills had three players in double figures.
"A lot of guys gave us a lift tonight," said McCarty, whose team travels to Highland Park Friday for the Central Suburban North North opener.
"Give Grant credit. They're always physical."
Senior forward Sam Polisky started in place of Jacobson and finished with 2 points.
The Cougars worked the ball well most of the night, with sophomore forward Erik Rimas and senior forward Jack Barszcz doing most of the damage in the paint.
"Jack's a load down low and Erik did a great job coming off the bench," said McCarty. "They worked a good high-low game tonight."
Rimas finished with a team-high 14 points, while Barszcz chipped in with 10.
"Everyone is stepping up," said Barszcz, who also snared 13 boards. "We play fast and I don't think they could keep up with our intensity. We'll compete with anyone and play until the last minute."
Sounds like Grant, though trailing all night, never went away.
Trailing 48-27 midway through the fourth, Ashley's two free-throws capped a 10-2 run that got Grant to within 50-37.
But from there the Cougars went 10-for-15 from the foul line to help keep a double-digit lead.
Ashley led all scorers with 18 points, while freshman guard Chad Kiesgen added 7 and junior guard Jalen Rios 6 for the Bulldogs.