Rolling Meadows' Willis Goodwin is a 5-foot-9 senior guard, and what most would consider a tough guy.
Goodwin plays under the basket on defense and disrupts the other team's offense.
It's a natural role for Goodwin, who showed his prowess the last two seasons on the football team as a standout defensive back. He also plays rugby.
On Friday night against Hersey in a Mid-Suburban East contest in Rolling Meadows, he contributed plenty of hard-hitting offesne as well. Goodwin scored a career-best 18 points and contributed 3 assists and 3 rebounds in the Mustangs' 64-57 win over the Huskies in Mid-Suburban East play.
Rolling Meadows improved to 6-9 overall and 3-2 in the East, while Hersey fell to 4-12 and 3-2.
"Willis is such a tough-minded player," said Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich. "It's the best game he's had for us. Some kids are born tough. He's a complete team player. Tonight he did everything we asked him to do."
Goodwin broke a 43-all tie to start the fourth quarter with a basket on a assist from Matt Schoessling. Goodwin hit 2 free throws moments later, and that was followed by a Schoessling basket for a 49-43 lead.
"That was a good start for them in the quarter," said Hersey coach Steve Messer. "We weren't able to answer their start."
The Huskies were forced to chase the Mustangs the rest of the game.
Willis scored 10 of his 18 points in the quarter, and freshman Max Christie, who led Rolling Meadows with 23 points, hit 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch.
Hersey closed to within 3 points twice -- at 53-50, and then at 56-53 with 2:33 left.
Christie, who had to sit out most of the first half with two fouls, then made four straight free throws.
Goodwin scored on an assist from Ryan Carney for a 62-54 lead with :50 left. Ryan Verhulst (9 points) connected for a 3 before Goodwin scored on a layup with :30 left.
"It was good scoring some points tonight, but I know I'm not going to be looked at a lot to get points," said Goodwin. "If the points happen, they happen. I kind of pride myself on defense and making good plays. We all did a nice job working the ball around and getting into position.
"We have players who can score like Max, Gio (Carrillo, 11 points) and Carney. To me, it was nice to get the win."
Carrillo played a key role in the first half, when he scored 9 points. He had a big assist just before halftime that led to a Schoessling 3 at the buzzer for a 26-22 lead.
"I'm one of the team captains," said Carrillo. "With Max on the bench we had to stay together and stay in the game. That meant running the offense and finding the open man. On that last play before halftime, I started to drive on the play and then saw that Matt was able to get open in the corner. I was able to get the ball to him and he hit the 3-pointer. When we play with the good effort and play hard like we did tonight, we expect good things to happen."
Katovich felt his team's defensive intensity and balance scoring were key factors in the win.
"We were able to force turnovers, and that led to points," said Katovich. "On offense we are at our best when other players are scoring points for us. To be successful in the second half of the season, we need maximum effort from all 12 players in practice and all 32 minutes in the game. As far as the conference is concerned we can only focus on what we can control."
Hersey had a good performance from Jason Schmidt, who had 17 points. He scored 8 of his points in the fourth quarter to keep Hersey in the game. Joe Nugent played well inside with 10 points. Both players had 5 rebounds.
"When we pressured the ball," said Messer, "we played well. But we didn't do it consistently."