Team effort lifts Hersey past state-ranked Lake Forest
Hersey's girls basketball game tipped off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
A weekend afternoon game often means a sparse gathering of fans and little energy in the gym, but not this time.
That's because the Huskies were hosting state-ranked Lake Forest and 6-foot-2 senior guard Halle Douglass, a University of Wisconsin recruit and one of the top prep players in the country.
And when all was said and done, Hersey put forth a great effort on both ends of the court in a 51-36 nonconference win.
Six-foot-1 junior Mary McGrath was terrific for the Huskies, posting a game-high 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 steals as the game was played in front of a great crowd with a ton of buzz in the building at Ken Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
"I actually love Saturday games," said McGrath. "You can relax, there's no school so you have more time to prepare.
"Lake Forest is in our sectional, so this was a big game. We knew we were going to come in with a 2-3 defense, and whenever Halle had the ball we were going to double her. We didn't want her getting anywhere near the paint -- that's where she's the most dangerous."
"We had to guard her (Douglass) at half-court and if she got in the paint, like Mary said, we would double her," said Hersey freshman Meghan Mrowicki. "It was just a good team bond and we were all on the same page today."
Douglass put Lake Forest (17-5) ahead 3-0 in the first moments of the game with a 3-point shot, but Hersey scored the next 11 points.
And then in the second quarter, when Mrowicki fed Avery Larson for a layup, the Huskies led 32-12.
"The kids did a great job today, doing everything that we asked them to do," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "From the start, we looked like we were ready to go."
Hersey (17-6) kept adding to the advantage in the third quarter, and when Larson got another layup, the lead was 41-21.
And with 4:40 remaining in the third period, Douglass went to the bench after suffering an apparent hand injury after a hard fall.
The senior, who finished with 14 points, would not return to the contest.
"We put Hersey on our schedule for a reason -- they're a great team," said Scouts coach Kyle Wilhelm. "It would have been nice to play them at full strength, but after Halle went down, that meant we had four starters out."
Lake Forest was able to get even closer in the fourth quarter thanks to the play of freshman guard Bella Ranallo (14 points), but once the Scouts got to within 15 points in the final stanza, a 3-point play from McGrath helped put the game out of reach.
Freshman Katy Eidle scored 9 points for Hersey, Mrowicki added 6 points, while Mary Kate Fahey had 6 points and 5 assists.
"I'm proud of our kids today," said Fendley. "This was a statement game for us and they really stepped up against a good, quality opponent. Our kids thrive knowing that they're playing one of the top teams and top players in the state. They accepted the challenge."
"We were together, on the same page," added Mrowicki. "Just really buckled down. It was nice today to have the 2:30 start -- it gave us time to think about our game plan and be ready for it."