Hersey sneaks past Buffalo Grove
It's kind of like a slogan for a weight loss company: "New Year … New Team."
But Hersey's slogan for 2019 isn't about losing, of course. It's about winning.
The Huskies believe that they are a different kind of team in 2019, a better team. And their most recent results back that up.
After finishing 2018 with two straight losses, Hersey has opened 2019 with two straight wins. Big wins, including Friday night's 60-56 Mid-Suburban League East Division road win over Buffalo Grove in front of a spirited crowd in a packed gym.
Hersey, which is 8-8 on the season and 3-2 in the East, entered the game coming off another huge MSL crossover victory three days earlier against Barrington.
"It's a new year, and we're a new team," Hersey senior guard Davis Belford said. "We're playing really well. We're playing better on offense, more aggressive and we're really playing for each other."
Belford had a big fourth quarter for the Huskies, who had to fight off a scrappy and determined Buffalo Grove team at every turn. He had 7 of his 9 points in the fourth quarter to help Hersey maintain the slimmest of margins.
The Huskies also got a couple of big 3-pointers from Rocco Ronzio (9 points) and Ryan Verhulst (11 points) in the fourth quarter and 2 huge free throws from Verhulst with about 2 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Jacob Kluczewski, who paced Hersey with a team-high 14 points, also had a big bucket in the fourth quarter.
"This (victory) was about a lot of team stuff," Hersey coach Austin Scott said. "It's what the guys call a total 'We win.' It's not one guy. It's never one guy with this group. It's all about 'We.' For Ryan (Verhulst) to make those free throws, he responded.
"Everyone on our team plays their role to perfection every single game. These guys are a special group. A lot of teams would have folded being 6-8 at Christmas, but I think there is new life in them. I really do."
Buffalo Grove, which drops to 10-8 overall and 3-2 in the East, didn't make it easy on the Huskies. The Bison revved up a full-court press late in the game that created some Hersey turnovers and some extra Buffalo Grove chances at the basket.
Buffalo Grove held slim leads three times in the fourth quarter and the score was also tied twice.
"Every time we got the lead, they came right back and fast," said Buffalo Grove's fabulous 6-foot-4 freshman guard Kam Craft, who poured in a game-high 19 points on three 3-pointers. "Our full-court press did work, but unfortunately things didn't work out for us in the end. But playing in this type of environment was really fun. It's something I always look forward to."
Buffalo Grove also got double figures out of Mike Nowakowski, who scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
"We gave a fight out there (late), but we just didn't execute enough at the end to make enough plays," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "We had great looks in the third quarter and the fourth quarter, we just didn't make enough shots."