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Vernon Hills Wednesday, 12/19/12 Vernon Hills' Stephen Curry (1) drives past North Chicago's Finch "Jay" Pettis (32) during the second quarter of Wednesday evening's game. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

Despite being without two of its top three players, North Chicago coasted to a 68-51 win over Vernon Hills Wednesday night to remain unbeaten in the North Suburban Conference’s Prairie Division.

The No. 17 Warhawks (9-1 overall, 4-0 NSC Prairie) got a game-high 27 points from junior guard JayQuan McCloud (9-for-21 from the field), while 6-4 junior forward JaVairius Amos-Mays and 6-6 junior Kurt Hall were both sidelined with the flu.

Seniors Timothy Dixon (14 points) and Emanuel January (11 points) also finished in double-figures for the Warhawks, while senior Jarrod Coleman (12 points, 16 rebounds) was dominant in the paint and notched a double-double.

“I was very impressed with our guys, especially Dixon,” North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman said. “We got to see some players tonight we wouldn’t normally get to see, which is always a good thing.”

North Chicago took a 14-point lead into the locker room at halftime, despite allowing Vernon Hills to shoot 50 percent from the field (8-of-16) during that span. However, the Warhawks attempted 20 more first half field goals (16-of-36) than the Cougars, thanks to a 17-11 rebounding edge and 11 Vernon Hills turnovers.

Their lead ballooned to 24 points headed to the fourth quarter, when suddenly, things got interesting.

Vernon Hills (5-6, 2-2) cut North Chicago’s lead in half in what seemed like the blink of an eye, as the Cougars reeled off a 16-4 run during the first three minutes of the period, thanks in large part to the efforts of seniors Stephen Curry (team-high 21 points, five assists) and TJ Flis (14 points, seven rebounds).

But it was as close as they could get. The Warhawks iced things by clamping down defensively and going 11-for-18 from the foul line in the game’s final five minutes.

“That fourth quarter helps us know what we’re truly capable of doing,” Flis said after the game. “It’s like a bulb in our heads where we can say, ‘hey, we can compete with them.’ This should give us a lot of confidence in our upcoming games.”


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