Hersey’s girls basketball team played without senior forward Renee Poulos for the first time in four seasons on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a girl play in every game for four years,” said Huskies 16-year coach Mary Fendley. “It was a huge adjustment not having Renee on the floor.”
Poulos was sidelined with a broken wrist; her status for the upcoming postseason is unknown.
But the Huskies did what they know best — win a basketball game.
They posted their 23rd win in 27 games with a 58-44 victory over Conant at the William N. Perry Gymnasium in Hoffman Estates.
“It was tougher without Renee,” said Morgan Harris, a co-captain along with Poulos. “She really controls the floor for us.”
Harris did a fine job controlling things with her 17 points, one less than Huskies junior Annie Korff’s game-high 18.
Harris had a 3-pointer and 4 free throws to help get the Huskies off to an 18-5 lead after one quarter.
“That No. 11 (Harris) is good,” said retiring Dan Travers, who directed the Cougars as a head coach for final time in the Perry Gymnasium. “She runs the show.
“You’ve got to give her credit and you’ve got to give Hersey credit. We wish Renee Poulos the best and hope she can play in the postseason.”
For now, Fendley says the Huskies will spend the rest of the week trying to figure out how to play without Poulos.
“It will be a bonus if she can return,” Fendley said. “It’s just a huge adjustment without her. She is one of those kids, regardless of scoring and rebounding, that having their leadership on the court is so important.
“Renee is just so knowledgeable out there. She knows the match-ups and things like that. We even got confused on some matchups this game and I attribute that to not having Renee.
“She’s like then glue out there. She’s always levelheaded and helps us keep our composure.”
The Huskies had to keep their composure in the second quarter when Conant (16-11) scored the first 8 points to get back to within 18-13.
Lexi Zades had a pair of 3-pointers and Sarah Mazurek scored on a driving layup for the 8-0 rally.
“We got down early and we have to stop doing that,” Travers said. “I thought we battled back but we didn’t sustain it. We’ve got to play better defense.”
Hersey was able to build the lead back to 9 by half, getting a key 3-point play by junior Juliette Vainisi and a layup by Harris in the final 28 seconds.
Korff scored 8 of her 18 points in the third quarter and she finished with 6 rebounds.
Kelly Weyhrich, who started in place of Poulos, grabbed 5 rebounds and hit a pair of 3-pointers while the Huskies’ other freshman starter, Claire Gritt, had 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 points.
Sophomore Maggie Berigan, who led off the game with a left-handed layup, also grabbed 5 rebounds.
Conant was led by Zades (10 points), Katie Lomas (8), Nireet Dhillon (7) and Haley Anderson (6).
“We battled,” Travers said. “But you can’t get down 18-5 against a team’s that 23-4.”