Vernon Hills starting to find its stride

  • Vernon Hills' Lauren Shores (25) goes up for a shot under pressure from Wheeling's Sophia Stanke, left, and Ashley Yasak during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills.

      Vernon Hills' Lauren Shores (25) goes up for a shot under pressure from Wheeling's Sophia Stanke, left, and Ashley Yasak during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Wheeling's Chloe Drozdz (1) takes a shot over Vernon Hills' Emmy Woodrow (12) and Emily Singer during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills.

      Wheeling's Chloe Drozdz (1) takes a shot over Vernon Hills' Emmy Woodrow (12) and Emily Singer during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills' Emmy Woodrow, center, chases a loose ball with Wheeling's Chloe Drodz, left, and Julia Kawa (25) during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills.

      Vernon Hills' Emmy Woodrow, center, chases a loose ball with Wheeling's Chloe Drodz, left, and Julia Kawa (25) during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills' Grace Koepke stretches for a loose ball in front of Wheeling's Morgan Collar during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills.

      Vernon Hills' Grace Koepke stretches for a loose ball in front of Wheeling's Morgan Collar during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills' head coach Paul Brettner talks to his team during Monday's girls basketball game against Wheeling in Vernon Hills.

      Vernon Hills' head coach Paul Brettner talks to his team during Monday's girls basketball game against Wheeling in Vernon Hills. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Wheeling head coach Matthew Weber talks with his players during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills.

      Wheeling head coach Matthew Weber talks with his players during Monday's girls basketball game in Vernon Hills. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/20/2020 8:40 PM

The Vernon Hills girls basketball team has picked a good time to gel as it enters the heart of the season.

A strong start helped fuel the Cougars to a 49-38 victory over visiting nonconference foe Wheeling on Monday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Any team from the Mid-Suburban League is always going to be seasoned and ready to play," said coach Paul Brettner, whose Cougars (12-8) won their third win in a row and sixth in seven games, and will host Maine East on Friday for Senior Night. "We got off to a good start and everyone contributed."

That included junior guard Daniella Jarrell, who scored 12 points to tie for game-high scoring honors with freshman teammate Grace Koepke.

"Wheeling has a lot of strong players," Jarrell said. "But we figured out early what they were doing. We played well. We're finding our stride."

Senior forward Morgan Collar made a layup for a quick 2-0 Wheeling lead, but the hosts responded with a 14-0 run. Jarrell scored 5 of the points, and Koepke finished back-to-back layups.

Wheeling closed within 15-7 by the end of the opening quarter, as Naomi Metellus sank a 3-pointer, and trailed 28-18 at halftime.

Metellus led Wheeling (4-18) with 11 points, including a two 3-pointers.

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"It's been an up-and-down season," Wildcats coach Matt Weber said. "We just need to play more consistent. We had times tonight where the offense and defense were pretty good. We had some good open looks."

Vernon Hills stretched its lead to as many 12 (37-25) on a 3 by senior guard Brynn Ziemke at the 1:24 mark of the third. Cougars forward Lauren Shores hit a big 3 to help keep Wheeling from gaining momentum.

The Cougars upped their lead to 44-26 in the fourth on a layup by Koepke.

Chloe Drozdz and Collar each had 9 points for Wheeling.

"We were always playing catchup," Weber said. "[Vernon Hills] was prepared."

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