Hersey's girls basketball team could do very little wrong in the first half Friday night at the Jean Walker Field House in Mt. Prospect.
Calling it her team's best half of the season, Huskies coach Mary Fendley said, "oh my gosh, everything just clicked."
When the first 16 minutes ticked away, Hersey owned a 27-5 lead it never relinquished en route to a 45-34 victory over Prospect.
The Huskies (4-5, 1-1) didn't give up a bucket until sophomore forward Catherine Sherwood hit an inside shot with 4:27 left in the second quarter which made the score 17-3.
Hersey pitched a 7-0 shutout in the first quarter, getting baskets from senior Meg Cerniglia (8 points, 9 rebounds), junior Morgan Harris (17 points, 6 steals) and senior Erica Hill (5 points, 4 steals), who also had a free throw.
"Our press was really the difference," Fendley said. "Erica is so fun to watch on the press. With her foul trouble in the second half, that was a primary reason the game became competitive. Missing her defense, especially on the press, changed the game."
The game was all Hersey in the first half as the Huskies took a 15-0 lead on 2 free throw by Cerniglia with 6:53 left in the second quarter.
"Our team really came through with the defense," said Cerniglia, who was making her first start of the season, replacing Renee Poulos (6 points) who had been slowed down by illness during the week. "It was awesome. We fell a little in the second half, but we picked it up again at the end. We learned no lead is safe."
The Knights (6-3, 1-1) got to within 39-28 when Taylor Will made a pair of free throws with 2:50 left in the game, but that's as close as they got.
"Honestly, we were getting good looks in the first half," said Prospect coach Ashley Graham. "But we had a lack of intensity, enthusiasm and spirit for the game.
"You saw the spirit we had in the second half. We outscored them (29-18). But you can't come out the way we did in the first half against any team. Give credit to Hersey. Their kids came out playing hard. That's a good ballclub."
Hersey senior Ashley Raulli scored all 6 of her points in the second quarter when Hersey outscored the hosts 20-5. Teammate Casey Weyhrich grabbed 3 rebounds.
"I thought we really played good defense in the first half," Harris said. "We had good chemistry and did a good job coming out on their screens. It just worked really well for us."
"We lost to Prospect twice last season," Cerniglia added. "So it was nice to come back and get a win, and especially on their court. Everyone played great."
Sherwood led Prospect with 10 points. Will and Michele Molini each had 7 while Adriane Falagario chipped in 5.
"We had too many turnovers in the first half and we didn't shoot free throws well (3-of-11)," Graham said. "Combine that with a lack of energy and you are not going to win many basketballs games like that. Obviously, we just have to move forward."