Hersey runs past Grant
With a darkened perimeter around the court and a wide open backdrop that can affect depth perception, the Grant gym can be a challenging venue for opposing shooters.
But it seems that the Hersey boys basketball team didn't get the memo on that.
The Huskies came out on fire on Monday night and shot with the comfort that many do on their driveway hoop, hitting 7 of their 9 total 3-pointers in the first half en route to a breezy 67-38 victory over host Grant in the first round of a Class 4A regional.
"I actually like this gym a lot," Hersey junior guard Ethan Roberts said of Grant's field house, where the court is the only thing that is lit up during play and where there is nothing but wide open space between the baselines and the nearest wall.
"It feels like an NBA court. It's nice and open. I also really like the rims."
Roberts should. He blew up for all 17 of his points in the first half on three 3-pointers. He played only 2 minutes in the second half because the No. 14 Huskies had taken such firm control by then.
Hersey, which improves to 13-18 and will now face No. 3 Buffalo Grove in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Grant, has now won five games in a row and seems to be clicking in an otherwise up-and-down season.
No. 17 Grant finishes the season at 11-22.
"We're just hitting our shots," Roberts said. "The last four games we've been shooting well. I'm not sure how to explain it. There's no magical turnaround. I don't know what it is other than we're doing our thing, we're doing what we're supposed to do.
"It's like March Madness. There are some dangerous teams that start clicking at the end and I think that's what we're doing. You never know what's going to happen."
The Huskies, who were up by 20 points by halftime (41-21), also got double figures out of Scott Rogowski, who finished with 11 points on three 3-pointers. Griffin Ginder added 9 points while 10 other players also scored at least 2 points.
"I think we're playing really confidently right now," Hersey coach Austin Scott said. "It shows in the way we're shooting the ball and attacking the rim. I told the kids this is a unique shooting landscape here (at Grant), but I don't think they needed my help. They looked like they had been playing here a while."
Grant, which does call that field house home, didn't shoot as well as Hersey, and also had trouble hanging onto the ball. The Bulldogs had 10 turnovers in the first quarter alone.
Luke Bedrosian and Carter Kaye each had 8 points for Grant while Jalen Rios added 7 points. Senior Mikal Ashley had 2 points in his final game.
"It's been an up and down season, but it's also been great because I've been trying to mentor the younger guys, leading the way for varsity and getting them ready for next year," said Ashley, who will be playing college baseball next year at Johnson County Community College. "Hersey moved the ball really well today and their defense was great. They were everywhere on defense and they played physical.
"This is so sad that this is my last game. I've been through a lot here and have good memories. But I'm ready for college though. For sure."