Hersey's boys basketball team has struggled to find its way to the top of the mountain this season.
But Joe Nugent's free throw with 10.9 second left got them there Tuesday.
Nugent nailed the second of the two free throws that he had earned after some hard play under the basket. The Huskies then survived a missed 3-point attempt with two seconds to play and held on for a 65-64 win over Maine West in Arlington Heights.
"It was business as usual," said a smiling Nugent. "I wanted to get the crowd going, especially the visiting crowd. But it felt good when the second one went in."
Hersey (5-13) then needed to play defense on hard-charging Julian Dones from Maine West.
Dones, who'd drilled four 3s, attempted a long-range trey. The shot was just a bit off and the ball bounded away as time expired.
"It was great win for us," Hersey coach Steve Messer said. "They are a good team and are well coached. It was good to get a win out of this. We still have some very teachable moments in there, but I hope that pretty soon we don't have to teach any of those things."
One of those things may be how to avoid a technical foul.
Hersey had the game all but sewn up when, leading by 5 with 37.2 seconds to play, the Huskies rebounded a missed Maine West shot.
Hersey was fouled on the play, which would have sent them to the free throw line. But a Huskies player got a but too physical in response to the foul, earning that player a technical.
To make matters worse, Hersey missed its ensuing free throw. Dones then calmly drained his technicals, and the Warriors were then awarded the ball -- and Dones caught a pass and promptly drained a 3 to tie it at 64 with 33 seconds left.
After Hersey ran some time off the clock, Nugent was fouled under the basket attempting a shot, and his free throw ended the drama.
Maine West (10-6), which had won 9 of its last 10 heading into the game, looked to be in control early in the game. The Warriors, who have a huge showdown with Highland Park on Friday for first place in the Central Suburban North, scored the first 9 points of the game on Tuesday.
Hersey was able to climb back into the game thanks to its strong play in the boards, especially on the offensive end.
"I thought we rebounded hard, especially in the first half," Messer said. "That was one of our goals coming into the game tonight."
That Huskie play -- and the foul trouble it forced on Maine West -- made Warriors coach coach Tom Prokopij to go to his bench with his team trailing 15-13 after one quarter.
"We got into foul trouble," Prokopij said. "At that point, we weren't going to pick up any other fouls. We weren't rebounding anyway. I wanted our bench players to go in and get things going -- but they weren't rebounding either."
Hersey took advantage of that with hard play to build a 33-23 halftime lead.
Maine West went back to its starters in the third quarter and got to 37-36 with 2:59 left in the third quarter. Jason Schmidt and Matt Hanushewsky helped the Huskies thwart the comeback by hitting some big shots as the lead went back up to 56-46 with 4:03 to play.
"I tried to create by driving and finding my teammates," said Hanushewsky, who finished with 9 points. "Today was a step in a good direction for us."
Schmidt, who finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds, said he and his teammates have been working to get this win.
"I am just trying to play hard and trying to get us a win," Schmidt said. "We have been rebounding well. That had been one of the things we have been emphasizing all year."
Rocco Ronzio had 10 points for Hersey while Ryan Verhulst had 9 points and Jacob Kluczewski had 9 points and 7 rebounds.
Dones led Maine West with 16 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter. Matt Kentgen had 15 points and 10 rebounds while Jack Collins had 10 points and 8 rebounds.