MUNDELEIN – Cary-Grove senior Joslyn Nicholson wondered about the law of averages. Vernon Hills doesn’t have any 100 percent free throw shooters.
So eventually, she thought, the Cougars had to miss.
But they didn’t. Vernon Hills (18-0) took 20 foul shots Saturday. And it made all 20.
The second meeting of the teams in the Mundelein Holiday Classic was for the championship. And despite the brilliant free throw shooting of Vernon Hills, Cary-Grove (9-6) kept it close before losing, 50-47.
“We don’t give up no matter the score,’’ Nicholson said. “We keep fighting.”
Nicholson, held to four points in the first loss to Vernon Hills on Thursday morning, finished with 12 points in this loss.
“Nicholson played with a chip on her shoulder,’’ Cary-Grove coach Rod Saffert said. “But I couldn’t be prouder of our girls. We just couldn’t defend those free throws.”
The Fox Valley Conference teams fared well. In addition to the Trojans’ second-place finish, Huntley claimed the consolation crown. Ali Andrews had 20 points in the 43-39 win over Conant. Prairie Ridge also finished strong Saturday with a 44-21 win over Grant.
If there were any regrets for the Trojans, it came in the third quarter. That was when Nicholson asserted herself on offense. The senior had a personal seven-point run. Her 12-footer with three minutes to play gave the Trojans a 27-20 lead. The Trojans missed seven straight shots to close the quarter leading by just two points (27-25).
“It was very, very intense,’’ Nicholson said. “We had to be physical. Playing a three-point game with them shows we can keep up with any team.”
Senior Olivia Jakubicek led all scorers with 19 points.
Cary-Grove was still breathing in the final half minute. That’s when another 3-pointer fell through the net. That clutch shot came from Vernon Hills senior guard Kylie Smith.
“What a great battle,’’ Saffert said. “We hit them with those big 3-pointers.”
Cary-Grove fought Vernon Hills’ 6-foot-2 center, Mari-Bennett Swanson, for every rebound.
“We had to watch film today,’’ Nicholson said. “We knew we had to keep an eye on Meri-Bennett in the post. We needed to crash the boards.”
In Huntley’s third win of the tourney, Amanda Kiniewski chipped in six points. Bethany Zornow added five.
In Prairie Ridge’s win over Grant, Kelly Klendworth led the way with 17 points. Kelsey Bear (nine points), Kailey Aldridge (eight points) and Marissa Gerstbrein (five points) all helped out.