Hersey finishes undefeated season with dominant MSL title-game win over Fremd
Since her freshman year, Mary Kate Fahey has been in charge of the offense for Hersey's girls basketball team.
The senior point guard also knows how to take a charge on defense.
She recorded three on Saturday in the 48th annual Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game and Hersey took charge late in the first quarter en route to one of showcase event's most dominating performances.
Led by sophomore Katy Eidle (18 points, four 3-pointers, 3 steals), senior Mary McGrath (16 points, 6 assists), Fahey (14 points, 6 assists) and senior Avery Larson (12 points, 11 rebounds), the Huskies (16-0) put an exclamation point on their No. 1 ranking in the Class 4A state poll with a 68-35 triumph over the defending state and MSL champion Fremd (10-3), which was ranked No. 3 in the poll.
The Vikings edged Hersey by 1 point in the 2020 MSL title game.
"It's an absolutely fairy tale ending," said Fahey, a New York University recruit. "It was an emotional day and we are just really thankful it ended this way. Fremd is a great team. We knew we had to come to play, and we did."
Fremd played great at the start, getting ahead 5-0 on two free throws by Quinnipiac University (CT) recruit Grace LaBarge and a 3-ponter by Anna Schmitt.
But the Huskies went ahead for good at 9-7 on Fahey's 3-pointer, followed up by taking her first charge.
That sequence ignited a 14-2 run and Hersey pulled away to a 46-14 halftime cushion.
"Our girls wanted to leave it all out there," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "Why wait for the second half? Everything was clicking. Our passing was there. There were a few great passes by Katy to Avery. I think our defense was smothering. We are not necessarily known for our defense but I think these girls showed they play on both ends of the court.":
"We showed up today and we met our biggest goal of the season which was ultimately to win the conference championship," said the Lindenwood (MO) recruit McGrath. "It was a mini state championship for us because obviously there is no state this year. I'm so happy. I can't explain it."
Fremd coach Dave Yates explained his team's gratefulness just to have a chance to play in the game for the 12th time in 13 years.
"We overcame a lot of adversity," he said. " We had one of our best kids go down (6-2 junior Brianna Wooldridge to a knee injury) and she never got to play against these guys (Hersey). But I don't think it would have mattered who we had today. That (Hersey) is a special group of kids with a ton of experience and in the moment, they played their minds out.
"My only concern about us was that we didn't rebound. We kept warning our kids 'you better rebound.' I don't know how many second chances they had in the first half but it was an absurd number. If you can't rebound and give a team that many good wide open kick-out shots, it's going to be a long day."
Senior Grace LaBarge led Fremd with 14 points. Sophomore Maddy Fay added 13, while William & Mary-bound Ruthie Montella had 12.
"We just feel real fortunate we were able to have a season and have success," Yates said. "I'm really proud of my kids and our seniors. I think Ruthie and Grace were huge contributors to our state championship run last year and they did a nice job taking a really young group and maturing it."
Also scoring for Hersey were senior Annie Lindgren, senior Megan Morris and junior Val Allen.
"After our 1-point loss to them in last year's MSL title game and then seeing them go on to win the state title, I just felt that was their year," Fendley said. "And, I felt that 2021 would be our year."
Fendley was right on target.
"For me to say and think that we are the best team in Illinois, these kids did every single thing they could to back that idea up," she said., "It was completely led by our eight seniors (including Natalia Kubsik, Maggie Kaepplinger and Jacqui Jacobson). The ones you see on the court and the ones you don't see on the court. This is a senior-owned team, and from day one, they just picked up the idea that we are going to play every game like it's our last."
"I'm glad we did it for these seniors," said Eidle, one of the most highly-recruited sophomores in Illinois. "I'm glad we did it for the seniors, our coaches and everyone who has supported us all season."