Freshman Mary Kate Fahey had never hit more than one 3-pointer in her young varsity career of 18 games.
However, playing in her biggest conference game to date on Friday night, Fahey was 5-for-5 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 17 points as the Huskies topped host Rolling Meadows 49-41 to move into a first-place tie in the Mid-Suburban East.
Both teams are 4-1 after the first half of division play.
"A lot of the people came to the boys game tonight (first game of a doubleheader) to see Rolling Meadows' excellent freshman (Max Christie, who had 23 points), and he was great to watch," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley, who was back coaching at her alma mater. "But we have of our own freshman who we are pretty happy with, too.
"Obviously, she (Fahey) is our primary ballhandler being the point guard, but hitting 5-of-5 3-pointers, that's a bonus for us."
Another bonus is Fahey putting the team before herself.
The 5-foot-6 rookie from St. James in Arlington Heights was not at all interested in discussing her big offensive night.
"It was really just a good team effort across the board," she said after the second double-digit scoring game of her career. "It was such a great game. We were really excited for this one. We played as team all four quarters. Finishing out a game is the most important thing."
And Fahey played a strong factor in the finish, too.
Her ballhandling helped the Huskies play keep away in the final minutes when Meadows had to eventually foul.
Hersey senior Maesyn Benjamin and Fahey hit 2 free throws apiece back-to-back to extend the lead to 46-36 with 2:37 left.
A 15-foot pull-up jumper by Meadows junior Lilly Greifenstein (team-high 13 points, 4 rebounds), 2 free throws by Alexa Davis (6 points, 4 assists) and a rebound putback by Bridget Rolla got the Mustangs back to within 46-41.
But Hersey closed with 2 free throws from Claire Rogowski and one by Emily Collins (3 points) to make the final 49-41.
"In that fourth quarter, our toughness from the hours the girls spent in the weight room getting in shape, is why we were able to protect the ball, stay strong and hit free throws," Fendley said.
The Huskies (10-9) were strong on the boards with Katie McGrath (10 points), Rogowski (9 points), Erin McGrath (4 points), Benjamin (4 points) and Janine Boyan (2 points) helping to lead the way.
Hersey was coming off the Montini Christmas tournament in which it went 1-3 against four state-ranked teams.
"That tournament prepared us so much for this game," Fahey added. "There was so much competition there."
"I know our record isn't amazing but the thing is, if you take the way we played right now compared to how we played at the beginning of December, we are a different team," Fendley said. "The best indicator is that we lost to Marist by 30 earlier in the season and then by 3 at Montini.
"Since the first week of December, we are transformed and it is a credit to the girls' hard work."
Melissa Spiwak scored 8 points with 4 steals for Meadows (12-7) which came back from a 9-2 deficit to tie the game at 13-13 after one quarter.
Rolla's scoop layup off an assist from Susannah Holifield got Meadows to within 24-23 late in the first half before Rogowski's 3-pointer from deep in the corner with three seconds left gave Hersey a 27-23 lead at intermission.
Back-to-back 3s by Fahey gave the Huskies a 38-27 lead with 3:48 left in the third quarter.
"She (Fahey) was consistent and hit some big shots for them," said Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "She played really well.
"We go back and rate what kind of shots we got on our possessions but some were good and some were probably off balance where we could have hunted for better ones."
Meadows and Hersey are 1 game ahead of Prospect (3-2) in the MSL East.
"We kind of expected the East to be wide open this season with a lot of new faces," Kirkorsky added. "Credit Hersey. I thought they played great. They were really tough tonight.
" I thought Mallory Brand (6-fooo-t junior forward) stood out for us with her minutes off the bench."