Behind Rogers' big night, Lake Park nips Hersey
Lake Park and Hersey gave Tuesday's Exam Jamm at Lake Zurich High School a superb matchup of two Top Ten teams in the Daily Herald girls basketball rankings.
And it certainly lived up to its billing as did Lake Park senior Darrione Rogers to her status as one of the state's top players.
The DePaul recruit poured home a game-high 34 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as the No. 8 Lancers edged No. 9 Hersey 64-63 in the exciting Chicagoland Invitational Showcase contest.
Rogers got a little help scoring from sophomore point guard Sara Balli, who connected for a career-high 18 points.
"She definitely stepped up big and had some nice finishes,' Rogers said of her first-year varsity teammate. "It's hard to defend us when we have two dominating scorers."
Lake Park moved to 7-1 with its only loss to Oswego while Hersey (7-3) had a six-game winning streak snapped.
"When Sara scores 18 points, the pressure it takes off Darrione and our shooters in the corners is incredible," said Lake Park coach Brian Rupp. "We hope she can do that consistently because then we can become a really good team."
Lake Park enjoyed the game's biggest leads, twice by 8 points. The last was at 61-53 when Rogers hit a pair of free throws with 3:40 left in the game.
But a 3-pointer by freshman Meghan Mrowicki and 3-point play by junior Avery Larson got the Huskies to within 61-59 with 3:02 left.
Balli's free throw with 57 seconds left put Lake Park in front 64-61 with 51 seconds remaining.
Mrowicki came up with a big steal and flipped a quick pass to Mary Kate Fahey for a layup with 27.7 seconds left, getting Hersey to within the final score of 64-63.
"There were a handful of little things we did not do well most of the game," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "So we needed that great fourth-quarter comeback."
Rogers liked the Lancers' poise at the end.
"That's definitely the best team we've played," she said of Hersey. "We held our composure and got the win. It was a good win."
Rupp stressed the rebounding prowess of Rogers, who had 19 in the Lancers' last game (56-53 win over Batavia).
"The one thing about Darrione that is never mentioned is that she is an unbelievable rebounder," the coach said. "She scores so many points that nobody talks about it, but pound for pound she is one the best rebounders and we're lucky to have her.
"She just goes after the ball and it's huge for us. It gives you extra possessions and closes off the defense for us."
Also getting the job done on the boards for Lake Park were Emma Thorne (8), Balli (5), Ria Patel (3), Kelli Moy (3), Ellie Helm (3) and Bray Walker (3).
"What I love best about this tournament is that you're going to get a good matchup every single time," Rupp said. "And to come up with a win against a great team like Hersey is great on every level for us. We get the win and get to learn to play against great teams because I think Hersey is best team we've played to this point."
Hersey was led by junior Mary McGrath (20 points), Fahey (11) and freshman Katy Eidle (9).
"I thought our defense wasn't good until it needed to be," Fendley said. "Had we'd been a little more aggressive prior to the fourth quarter, we wouldn't have been in a position where we were down by 1 point at the end."