Vogrich, Lake Forest net NSC title

  • Lake Forest's Matt Vogrich drives against North Chicago during the North Suburban Conference title game Wednesday night at Lake Forest High School.

    Lake Forest's Matt Vogrich drives against North Chicago during the North Suburban Conference title game Wednesday night at Lake Forest High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Published: 2/25/2009 11:43 PM

It was a question that made even some of the veteran staffers around Lake Forest scratch their heads a bit.

When was the last time the Scouts won a North Suburban Conference title in boys basketball?

Maybe 1987. Maybe 1993. No one knew for sure, although 1993 seemed to be the leading vote-getter.

In any case, the conclusion was that it had been a very long time, which made Lake Forest's 74-63 victory over visiting North Chicago in the North Suburban Conference title game on Wednesday night all the more gratifying.

The drought, however many years it was, was finally over.

"We weren't sure if it had ever happened," Lake Forest senior guard Matt Vogrich said of Lake Forest's history with conference titles. "So this is really exciting, especially since no one expected this from us. It's always fun to surprise people."

It was no surprise what kind of game Lake Forest (21-4) got out of Vogrich. The Michigan-bound shooting sensation strutted his stuff to the tune of a game-high 38 points, one point shy of his career high.

Vogrich, who drained five 3-pointers, was particularly lethal in the second half, when he scored 28 points to help erase Lake Forest's 6-point halftime deficit.

"He's a special player," Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala said of Vogrich. "If you look at our big games - North Chicago, Zion-Benton, Warren - he's come up big, 32 points, 33 points, 35 points...playing against some very tough players.

"We're definitely going to miss him, but hopefully we can keep riding his back a little longer."

North Chicago (20-5) rode a high-pressure defense, as well as the coattails of senior guard Keith Ford to a 30-24 lead at the break. The Warhawks got 14 first-half point from Ford and seemed to be slowly but surely wearing down Lake Forest with their up-tempo style.

But the tide turned when Ford suddenly fell into foul trouble.

Within the first two minutes of the third quarter, Ford was whistled for three fouls. Three minutes in, he picked up his fourth and was forced to the bench, where he remained for the next three minutes.

"That helped a lot," Vogrich said. "(Ford) had to sit for a long time and I think that gave us a lift. It helped momentum-wise."

Lake Forest took a 47-46 lead into the fourth quarter but then took off from there. The Scouts opened with a 12-3 run that gave them a 59-49 lead with 4:18 left. During that stretch, Vogrich scored all but three of Lake Forest's points.

From then on, North Chicago go no closer than seven points.

"For our program, this is huge," LaScala said. "I mean, we were 5-20 just three years ago when Matt (Vogrich) was a freshman. We brought him up the last five games and he reminded me that he didn't win a game when he was a freshman.

"It's great to see our kids develop and our program advance."

Lake Forest also got double figures from senior guard Kevin Berardini. He tallied 19 points.

Ford and freshman guard Aaron Simpson each scored a team-high 18 points for North Chicago, while Demetrius Starks added 11 points off the bench.