St. Viator's big second half sinks Hersey
Jeremiah Hernandez turned a neighborhood battle into his own private playground Tuesday in Arlington Heights.
The St. Viator junior erupted for 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half as the host Lions pulled away from Hersey 67-56.
"In the first half, I wasn't as aggressive as I could be," said Hernandez, who had just 4 free throws in the first half. "In the second half my coaches said they were going to get me the ball more. I talked with my teammates and said that we had to get more stops and more run-outs, and we were able to do that."
Hernandez used those plays to help St. Viator (7-1) surge ahead of a stout Hersey team.
With the Lions leading 42-39 with 2:42 left in the third quarter, Hernandez went to work. After a basket by teammate Treyvon Calvin, Hernandez, who was being scouted by Loyola-Chicago, scored the next 18 points for Viator as it extended the lead to 62-47 with 5:09 left to play.
"He did a nice job of being patient and letting the game come to him," St. Viator coach Quin Hayes said. "He was a little frustrated at times. He stayed within our offense. Our guys got him the ball. He took over and put that gap between us and them."
Hersey (2-6) used some long-distance shooting against a tight 1-2-2 defense to keep the Huskies close for nearly three quarters. With Rocco Ronzio and Ryan Verhulst, who transferred this year from Viator to Hersey, both nailing four 3s, Hersey wouldn't go away.
"These are games we need to win," said Hayes, whose team host conference rival and state power Benet on Friday. "We always know that Hersey is going to be tough. I am very happy the way our guys responded to the way Hersey came out."
Hersey stymied the Lions at times during the first half. Twice the Huskies led in the second quarter thanks to 3s by Verhulst and Ronzio as Hersey converted 6 of 12 shots from outside the arc.
But Viator was able to take a 30-26 halftime lead thanks to the play of Treyvon Calvin (16 points), Matt Doersching (11) and Peter Lambesis (10).
"I have been playing these guys since feeder, so it is nice to get the win this one last time," Lambesis said. "They shot the lights out against us in the first half. But I thought we adjusted pretty well."
Viator took away the 3-point shot from Hersey in the second half, with the Huskies attempting just 3 in the third quarter and none in the fourth quarter until the final 90 seconds of the game.
"They shot it well," Hayes said. "We made some adjustments at halftime and then we made that run in the third quarter to give us a little bit of a cushion."
Ronzio led Hersey with 14 points while Joe Nugent came off the bench to score 13 points and Verhulst finished with 12 points.
"I thought we played a little more cohesively," Hersey coach Steve Messer said. "I think we are still some turnovers away, and some defensive rebounding away, from being a good team and knocking off good teams. But it was a step forward in all aspects."