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Lakes clinches Prairie share
By John Bumbales | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 2/16/2013 1:26 AM

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It looked like visiting Lakes was ready to run away and hide from Vernon Hills in the third quarter of their North Suburban Prairie game Friday night.

But the host Cougars wouldn’t allow that to happen on their senior night.

They fell behind the Eagles by 15 points only to put together a 13-1 run to cut the lead to 45-42 midway through the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t easy, but Lakes (20-6, 11-1) managed to regroup and hold on down the stretch to capture a 54-50 victory and clinch a share of the NSC Prairie Division title with North Chicago.

Vernon Hills (10-15, 6-6) led 14-6 early, but a 12-2 run by the Eagles put them up 18-16 after one quarter.

A low-scoring second quarter resulted in Lakes extending its lead to 27-22 margin at halftime.

Then came the craziness, as the Eagles got rolling with an inside basket by senior Jake Kohler and a hoop off a turnover by Direll Clark. That started a 15-2 run midway through the third quarter.

Inside shots by Clark and Troy Swindle kept the momentum going before T.J. Edwards’ 3-pointer boosted the lead to 39-29 with 2:33 left in the period.

The culmination of the big run came when Clark was intentionally fouled on a breakaway resulting in the senior getting the basket, going 1 of 2 from the foul line and Lakes getting the ball out of bounds.

The inbounds play was another 3-pointer by Clark, giving Lakes a commanding 44-29 lead with 2:01 left in the third quarter.

The Cougars were not fazed, however, as senior Dylan McNamara hit two 3-pointers to cut the gap to 44-35 heading into the fourth quarter.

“We kind of just weathered a lot of different storms and we did enough to get the win,” said Lakes coach Chris Snyder. “It was a good way to end the division and our guys responded well at different points.”

Vernon Hills senior Stephen Curry scored on a drive to keep the momentum going to start the final quarter. Then a 3-point play by sophomore Robby Nardini and another driving basket by Curry (game-high 20 points) capped the 13-1 run to make the score 45-42 with 3:45 to go.

The teams traded baskets before Kohler (14 points) hit 2 free throws with 2:10 left for a 49-44 lead.

Then the teams traded free throws before Lakes’ Andrew Spencer came up with a huge steal and assist to Clark (team-high 15 points) to pretty much put the game out of reach at 52-45 with 31 seconds on the clock.

“It was a tough, hard-fought game and this is their senior night so we knew they were going to come out tough,” said Kohler. “Coach (Snyder) just told us to slow the tempo down, and that’s what we did. We let it come to us.”

McNamara (14 points) added 2 free throws with 20.2 seconds left before a basket by Spencer and a 3-pointer by McNamara with 2.3 seconds left closed out the scoring.

Swindle had 7 points for Lakes, while teammates Justin Bergeron and Edwards had 6 points each.

“We had chances to get over the hump, but we couldn’t knock down shots when we had to,” said Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty. “I thought our kids really battled back and I was proud of our effort. Stephen Curry kind of led our charge, and Dylan McNamara knocked down some 3s which really helped.”