Vernon Hills' title at Battle of the Ridge full of positives

  • Vernon Hills' Erik Rimas, left, was a key contributor for the Cougars in their championship at Northridge Prep's Battle at the Ridge Thanksgiving Tournament.

      Vernon Hills' Erik Rimas, left, was a key contributor for the Cougars in their championship at Northridge Prep's Battle at the Ridge Thanksgiving Tournament. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/2/2021 4:15 PM

Vernon Hills boys basketball coach Mike McCarty took a lot of positives out of his team's winning the Northridge Prep Battle at the Ridge tournament with a 4-0 mark.

The Cougars were down by 11 in the second half of the championship game against the hosts and rallied for the win.


Of note, junior guard Milan Raval scored 25 of the team's 35 points in the game to lead the second-half comeback (Vernon Hills won 35-31). He averaged 17.5 points per game in the tournament.

McCarty also liked how his team closed out a 48-45 win over Wheeling. He noted this past season, Vernon Hills went 1-4 in overtime games.

Senior forward Erik Rimas popped for 20 points and 6 rebounds against Amundsen, 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks against Senn and 11 points and 9 rebounds against Wheeling. He missed the title game due to illness. Raval also had 17 points and 7 boards against Amundsen, 12 points and 6 rebounds against Senn and 16 points and 12 rebounds against Wheeling. "Both Erik and Milan can score for us in a variety of ways and do a great job on the glass," McCarty noted.

Vernon Hills also sank 9 of 11 free throws in the title game after shooting under 60% as a team from the line last season. "It has been a major focus for us in the offseason and while prepping for the tournament," McCarty said.

Warren update:

The Blue Devils went 3-1 and won the Mundelein-Grant tournament, beating Carmel in the championship game. "Our players really pulled together and showed great resilience to battle back and win the game," said Warren coach Jon Jasnoch, who added he has seen a big uptick in defensive play so far with Ryan Panek and Gavin Cartwright standing out on that side of the ball.

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Drew Dolan averaged 12 points per game and Cooper Stacey added 11. Those two along with Nate Harris earned all-tournament honors.

Carmel update:

The Corsairs ended up 3-1 at the Mundelein-Grant tournament over the holiday, including a 68-60 win over North Lawndale, a team that was highly ranked in Class 2A heading into the season coach Zack Ryan pointed out.

Bryce Moore had 27 points and 12 rebounds in that Lawndale game. Moore, Asher Jackson and Kaleb Jackson made the all-tournament team there. Carmel averaged 73 points per game in the tournament.

Libertyville update:

The Wildcats also had a fine Thanksgiving, going 3-1 and taking second at the St. Viator tournament after key wins against Viator in overtime and Prospect and a 2-point loss to Evanston.

Chase Bonder came out of the tournament averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Coach Brian Zyrkowski noted Libertyville was down by 14 to Evanston and flipped it to a 4-point lead in the fourth. The Wildcats also got down by 9 to St. Viator and came back to send the game into overtime.


"We have had an opportunity to play in a few tight games which helped us learn how to finish games," he said. "The no-quit mentality this early in the season is extremely important."

Junior Jack Huber handled the point well, Zyrkowski said, and led the Wildcats in steals and deflections, plus sank a big 3 late in the St. Viator game. Junior Will Buchert came off the bench as the team's sixth man and provided big minutes down the stretch in the two comebacks against Evanston and St. Viator. Zyrkowski added Libertyville shot 50% from the floor in the tournament and out-rebounded all opponents, with particular strong play on the offensive glass.

Grayslake North update:

The Knights went 1-3 at the Johnsburg-Richmond tournament, defeating Richmond-Burton 63-54 in the final game.

Coach Josh Feizimer explained Dominic Jankowski led the way in the Richmond game with 23 points, but Vito Vizzini's 12 points and Carter Barenbaum's 7 off the bench "was integral in our success," he said. "We seem to have different players stepping up each game."

In a loss to Johnsburg, Joseph Valera had 31 points, becoming the ninth player in program history to score at least 30 points in a game.

Lakes update:

The Eagles went 1-3 at the Mundelein/Grant tournament. Lakes beat Chicago Schurz in its final game where Brock Marino had 21 points and 7 rebounds.

Coach Chris Snyder also liked how Tyler Anderson, now a full-time starter, has played. Anderson led the team in scoring in two of the games. Senior Ethan McGruder also has been a bright spot at point guard and in the leadership department, Snyder noted.

In the tournament, Lakes held opponents to 40% shooting from the field and forced 61 turnovers in four games. "Our effort on defense has been great so far," Snyder said.

Wauconda update:

The Bulldogs took second at the Johnsburg-Richmond tournament, losing to Huntley in the title game. Wauconda downed Crystal Lake South 81-72 in the tournament. In that win against South, Nick Brinias poured in 31 points and also had 6 assists. Griffin Daun had 15 points and 8 steals against McHenry, while Garrison Carter had 10 points and 9 rebounds in the Huntley game. Coach Scott Luetschwager also applauded the play of Christian Muniz and Justin Drobnik. Muniz was lauded for great effort and putting himself in positions to make big plays, while Drobnik led the team in assists. Wauconda averaged nearly 70 points a game in the tournament and 19 assists per game.

Stevenson update:

Jaden Evans, Evan Porto and Christian Uremovich starred for Stevenson in its second-place finish at the Ed Molitor tournament at Palatine. The Patriots went 3-1 there. "Improvement is in our team passing," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "The players are working on it."

Antioch update:

The Sequoits started the season 0-2 and did not play in a Thanksgiving tournament this year.

Freshman Marshall Gehrke averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds in his first two varsity games. Junior Emmy Zamudion provided leadership and ballhandling out of the gates. "Both players help keep the team balanced on both ends of the floor," new Sequoits coach Sean Connor said.

In those first two games, Antioch outrebounded its opponents by 7 and averaged 7 steals per game.

Grant update:

Grant scored a win over Chicago Schurz in its co-hosted tournament with Mundelein. "We just need to get better at this point," Bulldogs coach Wayne Bosworth said. "We didn't play to our potential this past week, and we need multiple players to step up. On the brighter side, we have a group that is working to do that and striving to get better."

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