Vernon Hills falls to St. Patrick

 
By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/25/2022 10:52 PM

Inside vs. outside.

Same thing.

 

Contrasting styles collided in Friday night's Class 3A Vernon Hills boys basketball regional final, and St. Patrick's visiting Shamrocks survived.

Barely.

Second-seeded St. Patrick -- featuring post players with quick first steps and electric, tough moves inside -- overcame seventh-seeded Vernon Hills' 13 3-pointers to earn a 54-47 victory.

Shamrocks 6-foot-5 senior forward Timeris Brown poured in 11 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-best 14 rebounds.

"Brown," VH coach Matt McCarty, "is a stud."

"Timeris," St. Patrick coach Mike Bailey added, "is one of the best players in Chicagoland. Listen, listen, we needed him against that Vernon Hills team -- such a well-coached team."

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St. Patrick (21-10) will face Carmel Catholic in a Class 3A North Chicago sectional semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Corsairs solved Notre Dame's Dons 65-48 in Friday night's Notre Dame regional title game.

At Vernon Hills Friday night, St. Patrick built leads -- 27-14 in the first quarter and 41-26 at 4:24 of the fourth quarter -- that seemed cozy. But McCarty's Cougars refused to wilt or sulk, relying on a trey fest paced by junior guard Milan Raval (team-high 16 points) and senior guard Justin St. Louis (15 points).

Raval nailed 5 3-pointers, one more than St. Louis' total from distance. VH senior forward Erik Rimas (8 points, team-high 11 rebounds) connected twice from 3-point hardwood in the first quarter, and senior guards Max Brusso (5 points) and Nick Heiser each finished with a 3.

"We knew in order to beat St. Patrick and its 1-3-1 defense, or at least stay with a very good team like that, we had to shoot well," said St. Louis, who struck for 13 points in the final frame, including his final 3-pointer that cut the Shamrocks' advantage to 48-44 with 44 ticks left.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Our shooting kept us in it," McCarty said before noting, and lamenting, St. Patrick's number (13) of offensive rebounds. "But what we did late, getting back in it after trailing by as many points as we did, epitomized the character of this senior group.

"I'm proud, so proud. Our guys never took a day off in the summer (after a 5-12 spring season)."

Brown's hot stretch at the outset of the second quarter forced McCarty to call a timeout. Brown had scored the first 6 points, including a resounding putback dunk. He displayed his versatility about 3 minutes later, hitting a corner 3 to give St. Patrick a 13-point lead.

The third quarter was a meek one for both squads. Bailey's crew outscored McCarty's 8-4 and led 35-23 after 24 minutes.

Vernon Hills (20-12) then made its visitors from the East Suburban Catholic Conference sweat in the final 8 minutes, draining 7 3-pointers in a 24-point barrage.

Only 8 of Vernon Hills' 47 points came from either the free-throw line or inside the 3-point arc

Brown made 4 free throws in the final minute to seal it.

Shamrocks junior forward Andrew Ayeni finished with 11 points and 5 boards, and senior guard Sergio Rivera tallied 7 points (2 3-pointers).

Vernon Hills senior post player Adam Jablonski came down with 5 of his 6 rebounds in the final quarter.

"It was an honor to coach against Mike Bailey," McCarty said of the coach who won his 600th career game this season. "I have so much respect for him."

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