2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/8/2017 11:30 PM

Super MSL finish favors Hersey

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  • Hersey players hold the hardware high after defeating Fremd 36-33 in the Mid-Suburban League championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.

      Hersey players hold the hardware high after defeating Fremd 36-33 in the Mid-Suburban League championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey players and coach Mary Fendley celebrate their 36-33 victory over Fremd during the Mid-Suburban League championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.

      Hersey players and coach Mary Fendley celebrate their 36-33 victory over Fremd during the Mid-Suburban League championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey players pose with their trophy after defeating Fremd 36-33 during the Mid-Suburban League championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.

      Hersey players pose with their trophy after defeating Fremd 36-33 during the Mid-Suburban League championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Kelly Weyhrich, left, tries to take the ball from Fremd's Emily Klaczek during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.

      Hersey's Kelly Weyhrich, left, tries to take the ball from Fremd's Emily Klaczek during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Claire Gritt, left, fouls Fremd's Midori Williams during the Mid-Suburban League championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.

      Hersey's Claire Gritt, left, fouls Fremd's Midori Williams during the Mid-Suburban League championship game in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 

It might not have been as improbable as New England's comeback in Sunday's Super Bowl, but this one was quite impressive to say the least.

Going up against four-time defending league champion Fremd and trailing by 9 points midway through the third quarter, Hersey's girls basketball team rallied for a 36-33 triumph in the 44th edition of the Mid-Suburban League championship at Ken Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.

It was the Huskies' fifth crown in six appearances, and the first for the current senior group which has been part of 98 wins.

Senior Carly Cooper, one of the best defensive players in Hersey history, was one of the Huskies' clutch offensive players in the second half.

Her 15-footer from the baseline with 56.7 seconds left gave Hersey the lead for good at 33-31.

"I'm crying, I'm so happy," said Cooper, who scored all 8 of her points in the second half. "We've always been a second-half team. We just had to use our endurance and stay strong."

Fellow senior Gina Miklasz added 2 free throws with 36.4 seconds to make it 35-31 before senior Midori Williams' driving layup got Fremd to within 35-33 with 23.9 seconds left.

Hersey (24-3) missed the front end of two bonuses in the final 15 seconds before junior Erin McGrath hit 1 of 2 free throws with 5.2 seconds left to make it 36-33.

"Our team was struggling and I didn't want to lose," said Miklasz who scored 8 of her game-high 12 points in the fourth quarter. "We all stepped up."

And "all" was key, as the Huskies played much of the game without Division I recruit Claire Gritt, who was battling foul trouble before picking up her fifth with 1:47 left in the game.

In fact, the Huskies were without Gritt when they made their comeback from the 9-point deficit.

Midori's Williams' 3-pointer gave Fremd a 24-15 lead with 5:40 left in the third quarter before Hersey began a 13-2 run with a fastbreak layup by McGrath, followed by Gina Miklasz' steal and layup.

The Huskies capped the run with Miklasz' 3-pointer that gave them a 28-26 lead with 6:02 left in the game.

Cooper had two big baskets during the rally, one coming off a steal and assist from Kelly Weyhrich, who became Hersey's all-time assist leaders (529) with 7 in the game.

Weyhrich and Gritt, a 1,000-point scorer, got their first MSL titles after starting for the past four seasons.

"It's so exciting, I'm kind of speechless," said Weyhrich, who also had 2 rebounds. "We never gave up and our bench did a good job keeping the energy up. It's very cool setting the assists record but without my teammates, I wouldn't be anywhere close to that number."

McGrath (9 points) grabbed 6 rebounds while Gritt (7 points) had 5.

"I wanted to step up for my team at the end," said Miklasz, who also had 3 assists and 3 steals. "Carly hit big shots. and she played great defense."

"We don't count on Carly for that (the baskets)," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley, who won her second MSL crown in three tries. "Everyone knows she is our defensive standout. She always guard the other team's top player but tonight we asked Erin to do that (defend Harvard-bound Grace Tworek) and I thought she did terrific. Erin also had some big layups in our transition offense.

"Kelly's help defense was perfect and our defense in general was great for the whole game. And Gina is kind of our steady kid. You always need that and she is always so competitive."

Freshman Emily Klaczek led the Vikings (23-6) with 11 points followed by Midori Williams (8) and Tworek, who had 6 points with 16 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.

"When they made their run they picked up their pressure a little and we made some noise we don't typically make," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "Credit Hersey -- they took us out of things we wanted to run. They forced us to make turnovers. I felt like we left 15 points on the floor missing layups and free throws."

Fremd was making its eighth straight appearance in the title game.

"But these kids haven't been here eight straight years," Yates said. "We had only one starter back. Hersey has three kids with three or four years of experience. We lacked experience and we needed to execute better."

The game was knotted four times in the first half before Klaczek's 3-pointer broke the fourth tie and gave Fremd an 18-15 lead at intermission.

"We weren't really playing like we normally do in the first half," Miklasz said. "But we were on our home court and at that one point (24-15) we started to click. We all knew we could step and do it. This is by far one of my best basketball memories."

Fendley, no doubt, will cherish the memories of this senior group and it supporting cast.

"We are such a 'team'," she said after career win No. 402. "These girls buy into that. It's never about one kid, one scorer, one defender. They all do it all. And that's what got us this championship."

As special as it was Wednesday night, today will be equally special.

The Huskies' girls team will practice with the school's special olympics basketball team, which will face Barrington at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night at Hersey, following the Huskies' boys game against Wheeling which tips at 6 p.m.

"If this was our biggest game of the season, tomorrow (Thursday) is our biggest practice," Fendley said.

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