Hersey's defense denies Stevenson regional title

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted2/15/2019 12:01 AM
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  • Hersey's Mary McGrath jumps with her teammates as they celebrate their win against Stevenson in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Mary McGrath jumps with her teammates as they celebrate their win against Stevenson in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Emily Collins wipes tears as she gathers with teammates to receive the trophy after defeating Stevenson in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Emily Collins wipes tears as she gathers with teammates to receive the trophy after defeating Stevenson in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Maddie Jacobson tries to slow down Stevenson's Simone Sawyer in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Maddie Jacobson tries to slow down Stevenson's Simone Sawyer in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Nicole Ware runs into the defense of Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Stevenson's Nicole Ware runs into the defense of Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Ava Bardic pulls a rebound away from Hersey's Aya El-Fiky in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Stevenson's Ava Bardic pulls a rebound away from Hersey's Aya El-Fiky in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Maddie Jacobson tries to get the ball to a teammate as Stevenson's Nicole Ware battles her in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Maddie Jacobson tries to get the ball to a teammate as Stevenson's Nicole Ware battles her in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Aya El-Fiky and Stevenson's Krissy Hill battle for the ball in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Aya El-Fiky and Stevenson's Krissy Hill battle for the ball in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Aya El-Fiky gets a rebound over Stevenson's Simone Sawyer in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Aya El-Fiky gets a rebound over Stevenson's Simone Sawyer in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Mary McGrath goes against Stevenson's Simone Sawyer in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Mary McGrath goes against Stevenson's Simone Sawyer in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey tries to get past Stevenson's Simone Sawyer in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey tries to get past Stevenson's Simone Sawyer in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Aya El-Fiky battles against Stevenson's Ava Bardic and Avery King in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Aya El-Fiky battles against Stevenson's Ava Bardic and Avery King in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Avery King blocks a shot by Hersey's Maddie Jacobson in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Stevenson's Avery King blocks a shot by Hersey's Maddie Jacobson in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Avery King pulls a rebound away from Hersey's Maddie Jacobson in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Stevenson's Avery King pulls a rebound away from Hersey's Maddie Jacobson in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Maddie Jacobson and teammate Aya El-Fiky battle with Stevenson's Avery King for the ball in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Hersey's Maddie Jacobson and teammate Aya El-Fiky battle with Stevenson's Avery King for the ball in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Avery King tries to shoot over Hersey's Aya El-Fiky in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Stevenson's Avery King tries to shoot over Hersey's Aya El-Fiky in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Simone Sawyer splits the Hersey defense in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Stevenson's Simone Sawyer splits the Hersey defense in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Nicole Ware charges for the basket against Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights.

      Stevenson's Nicole Ware charges for the basket against Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey in the Hersey girls basketball regional championship game Thursday in Arlington Heights. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Hersey senior Brianna Luciano talked about the importance of Thursday's 51-36 Class 4A girls basketball regional championship victory.

"It's just so amazing," said Luciano of the win over Stevenson at Ken Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights. "Our last home game as seniors, in this gym, it's really special. And to do it with this team is just perfect. I couldn't ask for anything better."

Luciano helped key a strong Hersey defensive effort down the stretch, while Mary Kate Fahey scored a team-high 15 points in the triumph.

Hersey senior Maddie Jacobson was strong on the boards (9 rebounds) and pitched in on the offensive end with 13 points.

"We were just looking to push the ball tonight," said Huskies junior Sydney Hemenway. "We had to keep taking it to them and not let up."

Junior Avery King scored a game-high 19 points for Stevenson and played a superb all-around game.

"Avery has carried us all season long," said Patriots coach Ashley Graham. "She's been on varsity since she's been a freshman and had a great junior season. Just kind of exploded this year -- she's so fearless, and is such a tough matchup and great defender."

Hersey (20-9), which will meet Fremd Monday night in the Libertyville sectional, played an up-tempo first half, building up a 29-15 lead after a layup from Aya El-Fiky late in the second quarter.

Then Stevenson made a third-quarter run and after a King floater in the lane, the Patriots trailed by only 7 with 3 minutes remaining in the period.

"I was proud of our kids for that comeback," said Graham. "We fought hard but the bottom line was we didn't make enough shots on the offensive end."

"Hersey is so just tenacious on defense, and they really hurt us with offensive rebounds."

Leading 33-26 at that point, the Huskies stymied the Patriots rally when El-Fiky made a steal and fed Fahey for a layup -- then a take-away by Hemenway led to another bucket.

At that point the Huskies' defense kicked into high gear. Hersey held Stevenson to a total of 3 points in the next 9 minutes of play and took a 45-31 lead with 1:45 left in the game.

"Communication was the key," said Luciano. "Communicating in our 2-3 zone. We've been working on that all season, and getting deflections really helps us a lot on 'D' as well."

King hit a couple of buckets late for Stevenson and teammate Lydia Lueck sank a long 3, but the Patriots couldn't cut into the Hersey lead as Fahey scored 7 points in the final period.

Freshman Simone Sawyer scored 9 points for the Patriots on 9-for-10 free throw shooting, while sophomore El-Fiky finished with 9 points for Hersey and classmate Mary McGrath added 7.

"We've been really focused in practice all week, and we knew what it would take to win tonight," said Luciano, who will attend Winona State University in the fall to play softball and major in psychology. "We were all really motivated to get the victory."

After the game, Huskies coach Mary Fendley lauded the play of her starting guards, Fahey, McGrath and Emily Collins.

"They are so good at dribbling, passing and scoring," said Fendley of the trio. "They're just a three-headed monster of doing whatever it takes to help their team win."

"They (Stevenson) were able to collapse the lead pretty quickly in the third quarter tonight," added Fendley, "but we were able to come right back. These kids are so team-first, as much as any team I've ever coach. They don't care about stats at all."

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