Call it resiliency. Call it heart. Call it determination.
Whatever the appropriate description, Elk Grove's boys basketball team had plenty of it in Friday's Mid-Suburban East game at Hersey's Ken Carter Gym.
The visiting Grenadiers withstood Hersey's first quarter burst to open the game, rallied again in the third quarter after a quick start by the Huskies, and then came back one more time with a 7-point run of their own in the fourth quarter that led to a 54-48 victory. The win allows Elk Grove (5-3, 3-0) to remain tied with Prospect atop the East standings.
"To win at Hersey isn't easy," said Elk Grove coach Anthony Furman, who thought this was the school's first win there in 10 years. "It's my first win at Hersey, and I've been here six years."
Austin Amann, coming off a 27-point performance last week against Rolling Meadows, led the Elk Grove attack with a season-high 32 points, including 7 3-pointers.
"My teammates attack, get guarded and then kick it out to me," Amann said of his ability to get open for 3s. "Hersey likes to help out on the drive," Amann said. "So when they collapse, my teammates look for me."
Hersey's height and strength inside paid early dividends, when Quinn Orlandi and Mike Fuerst got offensive rebounds and putback baskets to open the game. The Huskies (3-5, 1-2) led 7-0 and 9-2 when Amann scored twice, once from behind the arc, and the Grens cut the margin to 14-10 after one quarter.
They took the lead for the first time, 27-24, on an Amann 3-pointer, capping an 11-point outburst by the senior in a span of 2:21 late in the second quarter. Elk Grove led 29-26 at halftime.
Hersey regained the lead at 34-29 by scoring the first 8 points of the second half, but Amann stopped the slide again, draining a 3 and 1 of 2 free throws, cutting the margin to 36-33, and his 3 pointer at the end of the quarter made it 39-38.
"We started 0-7 and battled back," Furman said. "Then we went from up 3 to down 5 to start the second half. We did a good job of taking those punches."
Then with the game on the line, the Grens turned a 44-42 deficit into a 49-44 lead, thanks to 6 more points by Amann and a free throw by Brian Kelly.
Matt Wary's basket and 3 of 4 from the line by Amann sealed the game, despite 6 points down the stretch by Fuerst (team-high 15 points) to keep the game with reach of the Huskies.
"The defense played pretty well, but then they got a couple of drives in a row, and that's not us," Hersey coach Steve Messer said. "Those 2 buckets hurt us.
"We're getting better, there's no doubt about it, and we've worked hard to get to that point," Messer said. "We'd like to validate that with a win."