Hersey gets past Wheeling
On a night when Wheeling inducted three stars into its sports Hall of Fame and honored the memory of another stellar contributor to the school, the Hersey and Wheeling boys basketball teams played with the character worthy of those being honored.
While the character both teams showed was of equal intensity, Hersey showed a bit more poise and made a few more plays down the stretch to pull out a 57-49 Mid-Suburban East win after entering the fourth quarter down by 9 points.
And the effort that inspired the Huskies to score 15 straight points in the fourth quarter to seal the win was not lost on their coach, who couldn't have been prouder of the effort.
"One hundred percent of the credit goes to the kids," said Hersey coach Austin Scott, whose club got clutch shot-making and free throws from senior super-sub Ethan Roberts, who scored 10 of his 15 for the game in the final period, including a driving 3-point play and 7 consecutive free throws, the final one completing the 15-point run that brought them all the way back.
"They stayed together, responded. They're high-character kids," Scott said, rebounding from a third quarter in which the Huskies (10-13, 3-5) went without a field goal.
But Scott was as generous in his praise to a Wheeling team that watched layup after layup and putback after putback fall off the rim in the fourth quarter, "and often times that led to transition opportunities for Hersey," said Wildcats (11-14, 2-6) head coach Mike O'Keeffe.
Which they converted. Robert's 3-point play. Griffin Ginder's too, off a pick on an inbounds play. And finally Scott Rogowski's 3-pointer for the lead the Huskies would never give back.
It was a complete flip from the third quarter, when Wheeling seized control on the shooting of Jaden Terrell (18 points) and Christian McLaughlin (11 points) and the relentless defense and rebounding of Joe Jordan.
"Wheeling did a great job. They had a great game plan," said Scott.
The only flaw was, "There was a lid that was magically placed on the top of the basket," said O'Keeffe.
Still, he is heartened by his young team's future, as he starts four underclassmen. "Without a doubt, we are starting to click on both ends of the court," he said.
Hersey too, though, is playing "young," starting three underclassmen and coming with three more off the bench.
"Sometimes," Scott continued, reflecting on the win, "you have to have your back against the wall to play with some urgency."