Hersey nips Prospect, forges into tie for MSL East lead
Obviously, when Hersey's state-ranked girls basketball team wins, it can't be considered a big surprise.
However, there was a small twist in how the Huskies won their biggest Mid-Suburban East game of the year, 47-44, before a near-packed Jean Walker Field House on Friday night in Mount Prospect.
That would be the fact that the defending Mid-Suburban League champs put the game away with 6 consecutive free throws against the host Knights.
Two free throws by junior Natalie Alesi and 4 in a row by classmate Katy Eidle in the game's final 2:37 proved to be enough for the Huskies' 20th win of the season.
"That (free throws) hasn't necessarily been our thing this season," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley.
The 'thing' for Hersey on Friday was rebounding as the Huskies collected a whopping 35 boards, led by Val Allen (10), Mackenzie Ginder (8) and Alesia (7).
Hersey (20-4,6-1) moved into a first-place tie with Prospect (17-5, 6-1) in the East.
So far, each team has won all its games by 7 or more points (MSL tiebreaker rule) and thanks to a 3-pointer by Prospect's Macy Zei with 1.6 seconds left in the game, each team is even in head-to-head play with 3-point wins.
Prospect defeated Hersey 50-47 last month in Arlington Heights.
"This was our best rebounding game in years," Fendley said, "I thought we were relentless on the boards and that gave us more possessions than we had the last time we played them."
"The key was securing good possessions," said Allen, who also scored 6 points. "We had 26 turnovers the last time we played them. We just really trusted each other with the basketball."
Eidle led Hersey with 21 points and 5 steals while Alesia added 6 points.
"I thought Hersey did a great job in the first half of crashing the offensive boards and that really kind of hurt us," said Prospect coach Matt Weber. "Credit their kids for working hard and giving themselves second-chance opportunities which you can't allow good teams."
"Defensively, I thought we worked hard the entire game. I thought we had to focus on No. 5 (Eidle). "She is a special player and hard to defend. Offensively, we struggled at times, and it's hard to go through droughts against a good team."
Andie Will and Zei each scored 12 points while Summer Srodulski added 8 for the Knights, who led 20-11 with under five minutes in the first half. Hersey went on a 15-3 run and never trailed again,
A bucket by Neary (5 points, 4 assists, 4 steals) gave Hersey a 39-32 lead before Zei hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut it to 39-38 with 4:37 left.
"I thought Macy Zei came in and hit some big shots for us in the fourth quarter when we were looking for some offense." Weber added.
Hersey played its second game without standout Meghan Mrowicki, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
"It's been a super emotional week supporting Meghan and trying to acclimate to our new situation without her," Fendley said. "That's a big hit.
"Being our primary ballhandler, Katy Eidle (6-of-6 free throws) kept a lot of possessions for us tonight I thought Mackenzie Ginder came in and did a nice job with a ton of rebounds and Val Allen seemed to be everywhere."