Presto: Another Prospect victory
Prospect's girls basketball team didn't lose it magic touch against Hersey in the postseason.
After two regular-season wins over the Mid-Suburban League champs during the regular season, the Knights added a third victory over the Huskies in the Class 4A Buffalo Grove regional semifinal on Tuesday night.
Led by senior Emily Frasco's game-high 19 points and 12 from junior Ashley Adams (including 11 in the second half), No. 8 seeded Prospect posted 57-51 triumph over No. 9 Hersey to advance to the championship.
Prospect (16-9) will face top-seeded Warren (22-7) at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
"This is awesome," said Frasco, the MSL East Player of the Year who hit back-to-back baskets -- a 6-footer off a drive in the lane and a 16-foot fadeaway from behind the free throw line -- to give the Knights their biggest lead of the game at 47-40 with 5:18 left.
"I just feel every game we come in with a different mentality, and obviously this one was the most important of the three games because it determined whether we keep playing."
Adams was playing as well as anyone at the end, scoring 7 points in the final 6:39.
"Ashley had a great fourth quarter," said Prospect coach Gabrielle Lovin. "Especially when we were trying to strong. She was going hard into the gaps."
Adams' driving layup with 2:20 left gave Prospect a 51-45 lead. Two free throws by Frasco with 2:06 left made it 53-47.
Senior Maesyn Benjamin's rebound and layup got Hersey to within 53-49 with 1:48 left and freshman Mary Kate Fahey's big steal and layup closed the deficit to 54-51 with 1:01 left.
But that's as close as Hersey got, as Prospect used a free throw apiece from Sara Biesterfeldt, Margherite Pettenuzzo and Jessica Kowalczyk in the final 53 seconds to seal the verdict.
"We knew they were very aggressive on defense so we had to use that to our advantage," Adams said. "We drove a lot and tried to be aggressive on game so we could draw fouls. And that really helped at the end."
Senior Katie McGrath led Hersey (15-13) with 13 points and 13 rebounds while her triplet Erin added 10 points.
"Going against their posts is probably the toughest thing about playing Hersey because we are small, " said Frasco, a 6-foot guard. "Katie McGrath played awesome. She really does a lot for them."
"Katie McGrath did everything she could to keep us in it," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "She made us go (10 points) in the first half and Claire Rogowski had a really nice third quarter (all 9 of her points, including a pair of 3-pointers).
"And honestly she (Rogowski) was always in the right spot with her help on the defensive end. In the fourth quarter, things just did not fall for us."
The Knights were well aware of the difficulty involved in beating a team three times.
"They're well coached and they run their plays well, and they go to the basket," Lovin said. "I have known Mary Fendley for almost 20 years. She is a great coach and her team played well all year. I credit our girls for going out and staying level-headed and determined to beat them a third time this year. I am proud of this team.
"It kind of breaks my heart that two extremely competitive MSL teams have to play three times. But at the same time this prepares us for what we are about to come across."
That would be the top-seeded Blue Devils on Thursday.
"They'll be physical and they are well coached," Lovin said. "We will prepare ourselves as well as we can and leave everything on the floor."
Fendley felt her team did exactly that on Thursday.
"I don't fault our effort at all," she said. "We gave it everything we had. Prospect once again had our number."
But the Huskies increased the number of MSL crowns for Hersey's program to four in school history.
"I'm so unbelievably proud for what this team has accomplished after a slower start," Fendley said. "We had highs and lows like any team but we really put it together and I'm really proud that this team was able to come back with a conference championship. You can't take that away despite this disappointment.
"I guess this was the way a No. 8 vs. 9 seed game should have been. We did a lot we did a lot of uncharacteristic things. We did a nice job shooting free throws in the first half but in the second half they didn't fall. And when we had some uncharacteristic defensive lapses where we didn't help in the right spot. When we had opportunities, we weren't able to capitalize on them."