Rolling Meadows wanted to make sure that the failure the Mustangs had in the regional title a year ago wouldn't be repeated Thursday.
The Mustangs put the clamps on Hersey in the second half to pull away for a 53-37 victory for the Class 4A regional title at Mundelein. It was the first regional title for Rolling Meadows (26-3) in 10 years and moved them into Monday's sectional semifinal at Libertyville against Stevenson.
"It is exciting," said Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky, who was in his first year as a head coach when the Mustangs won their last regional title. "You knew it was going to be a grind out there tonight, playing Hersey for the third time. I am just proud of our kids battling back from some adversity in the first half."
Rolling Meadows, which beat Hersey convincingly in two previous meetings, threatened to do that again Thursday. Behind the play of Jackie Kemph, Rolling Meadows scored the game's first 8 points and built a 15-6 advantage.
"The lane was open for some of the game," said Kemph, who finished with 13 points and 4 assists. "So when it was I took it to the basket. When they collapsed on me, I passed it off to whoever was open for an easy basket."
Hersey (16-12) then came back as the Huskies defense began to stifle the high-scoring Mustangs. Led by Meg Cerniglia (12 points) and Erica Hill (10 points), Hersey closed to 25-22 at the half.
But then it was the Mustangs who turned up the pressure on defense, keeping Hersey from getting inside.
Meanwhile, Alexis Glasgow, who was limited to just a pair of free throws in the first half, began to find her range. Glasgow nailed three treys as the Mustangs opened up a 41-31 lead after three quarters.
"My shots weren't falling in the first half," said Glasgow, who finished with 13 points. "I think my teammates really helped set screens to get me open and I was able to put them down."
Rolling Meadows then went on an 8-2 run to open the fourth quarter to pull away as Morgan Keller broke the Huskies' back inside, scoring 4 of her 12 points.
"It is nice when we get penetration and everyone collapses on the ball," the 6-foot Keller said. "It leaves me wide open for some easy layups."
Hersey coach Mary Fendley was proud of her team's effort.
"It is emotional because this team overachieved all season," Fendley said. "They came together so well and did everything we asked of them. I am so proud of them.
"I have been coaching for a long time, but I have never had a team that had so much chemistry. I am going to miss my 7 seniors."