Usually when a team looks up at the scoreboard at the final buzzer and sees '38,' it is going home with an offensively-challenged loss.
But in the Mid-Suburban League, that's not always the case.
On Friday night, Hersey (2-3, 1-0) muscled out a 38-32 home win against Rolling Meadows (0-3, 0-1) to open MSL East play.
"Gutty is the way I would describe this game," said Hersey coach Steve Messer.
In a game in which Hersey only notched double digit points in the first quarter, it was the defensive effort that propelled the victory. The Huskies held the Mustangs to just 12 second-half points.
"We were doing the things we wanted to defensively, especially against the kind of team they had," Messer said.
While baskets were at a premium for both sides, Hersey senior guard Alex Sutrinaitis (16 points) sparked the offensive attack early.
The sharpshooting Sutrinaitis paced the Huskies with 11 first-half points against the smaller Rolling Meadows backcourt.
"We got in a little rhythm early," Sutrinaitis said. "We were working the ball around and trying to feed the post. We got a couple kick-outs to me in the corners and that just helped us get started and get some confidence early."
Despite Sutrinaitis' first-half effort, the Huskies only led by 1 at the half and even trailed after Rolling Meadows struck first in the second half. But the senior hit his third 3-pointer of the night to give Hersey a 24-22 lead it wouldn't look back on.
"It's huge when you only score 38," Messer said of Sutrinaitis' performance.
The Huskies didn't need Sutrinaitis to duplicate his first-half performance because of their third-quarter defense. Rolling Meadows went on a six-minute scoring drought in the third quarter.
"We can't just be hoping we're going to win," said Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich said. "We need to keep fighting and play like we want to win. At the end, I felt like Hersey did that better than we did."
Hersey utilized its size advantage to win the rebound battle 33-15. On a night in which neither offense was in midseason form, it was the Huskies' dirty work that prevailed -- and got them off to the MSL start they were looking for.
"It's always nice to get the first one," Sutrinaitis said. "It's usually the toughest. We were able to get some confidence going into the MSL."