Strong defense in the final quarter and two big individual scoring efforts is a good way to win a high school basketball game.
Hersey accomplished those goals in a 46-42 victory over host Buffalo Grove on Friday night in the final Mid-Suburban League East game of the season for both teams.
The Huskies (11-14, 6-4) held the Bison to 8 points in the final quarter to help seal the victory.
“I’m sure they (Buffalo Grove) will think about the shots that they missed, but I thought we worked hard to get through the screens, and that we contested well,” Hersey coach Steve Messer said. “Then we got the first rebound. That was key in the fourth quarter.”
Center Mike Fuerst singled out Hersey’s strong effort to stop dribble penetration.
“We know what kind of team they are,” Fuerst said. “They’re primarily a driving team, and they’ll get shots off the drive. We kind of shut that down, and locked it down more in the fourth quarter than we did earlier in the game.”
Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said his team shot 28 percent from the floor for the game, and in the fourth quarter they were at about that game average.
“Hersey did a nice job of stopping our ball screens,” Peterson said. “We’ve been having pretty good success with our ball screen action, and we couldn’t get anything out of that. They did a good job of hedging hard there. And, they’re big. They go six-five, six-four there. We don’t have the size for that.
“They did a nice job of closing out on our shooters and getting a hand up. I thought we had a lot of makeable shots, and we just didn’t knock down enough shots there.”
Guard Alex Mueller slashed through Buffalo Grove’s 2-3 zone defense to score a team-high 16 points and grab 6 rebounds, while Fuerst – the tallest player on the court at 6-foot-6 – carved out space down low for 14 points and 9 rebounds.
“We move the ball really well on offense, and that opens up the back side for rebounding,” Fuerst said. “That gives a lot of points opportunities for me. In terms of looking inside, our whole offense goes from the inside out. Those looks inside really give me get the ball and get options.”
Buffalo Grove (9-16, 2-8) started the game in man-to-man defense before switching to the 2-3 zone in the second quarter, and found success with it as Hersey’s offense struggled to have effective possessions.
“At first we were kind of kicking the ball around the perimeter and weren’t really getting any movement,” Mueller said. “Then we finally started flashing to the pockets and getting passes to the post and kick-outs for the three. I think it was just more movement in the middle is why we started scoring.”
For Buffalo Grove, senior guard Andrew Apel scored a game-high 17 points and pulled down 5 rebounds. Senior guard Scott Smithern added 11 for the Bison.