2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/16/2018 10:42 PM

Rolling Meadows rallies to second-place East finish

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By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

The scorebook Friday night shows Rolling Meadows senior Joe Coen with 3 points.

His effort off the bench for the Mustangs, however, was so much more than that.

Coen's energy and defense sparked Meadows to a second-half rally and a 64-54 win over Hersey at Ken Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.

The win saw the Mustangs clinch a second-place finish in the Mid-Suburban East.

"We want to keep improving," said Coen, "so this is a big step for us."

Freshman Max Christie led Meadows with 26 points, 22 of those in the second half.

"I couldn't be more proud of our kids," said Mustangs coach Kevin Katovich. "They work so hard, so incredibly hard, and I think it starts with our six seniors. Just great leadership, so unselfish, working together and setting great examples for everyone."

Hersey junior Jacob Kluczewski scored 17 hard-earned points, most of them in the paint, for Hersey.

"I liked the spirit and the energy between our kids tonight, even when things weren't going well," said Huskies coach Steve Messer.

Visiting Meadows (14-11, 7-3) started strong and took a 16-10 lead when senior guard Willis Goodwin closed out the first quarter with a bucket.

But Hersey struck back to outscore the Mustangs 16-8 in the second quarter and grabbed a 26-24 halftime lead when junior Rocco Ronzio (12 points, four 3s) hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.

"In the first half our offense really wasn't flowing that well," said Coen. "We weren't playing that hard in general -- not hustling -- and really not making those big plays that we needed."

After trailing for most of the third quarter, Meadows finally took back the lead late in the period.

Two consecutive buckets from Christie put the Mustangs up 40-38. Then Meadows extended the lead at the third-quarter horn when Coen stole the ball from a Hersey player and fed Javonte Warrener for a layup.

"We were playing for second place, and that was our motivation," said Coen.

Christie opened the final quarter with a 12-footer, then Coen sank a big 3 and Meadows quickly opened up a 47-38 advantage.

Hersey (9-15, 5-5) rallied behind the play of junior guard Jason Schmidt (5 points in the fourth period, 13 overall), but 6 late free throws by Christie helped close out the game.

"We got some good looks that we wanted to get," said Messer, "but we didn't get the results, and I felt like we fouled a little too much. That's where the score kind of pulled away."

Christie added 10 rebounds to his point total, while teammates Ryan Carney (13 points) and Gio Carrillo (12) make big contributions to the Meadows win.

"Our guys did a nice job of sticking with it," said Katovich. "We made some adjustments at halftime, and all the credit goes to our kids. They keep working hard every day, they're coachable, and they just want to be a good team, so it's fun.

"Hersey came ready to play. They're a good team and we knew they weren't going to go away on senior night on their home court."

Joe Nugent (4 points, 8 rebounds) was one of the Hersey seniors honored Friday, along with Sam Dermatoian, Drew Naumowicz, Andrew Leno, Johnny O'Shea and Will Nagle.

"It definitely feels bittersweet," said Nugent, a 6-6 forward. "It would have been nice to get the victory tonight, but we've put in a lot of hard work and despite the loss I'm proud of how this team played.

"We played with heart tonight. It felt like we wanted to win really bad and I really wish we could have won this one."

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