Top-ranked Hersey handles No. 7 Homewood-Flossmoor
Ten years ago, Mary Fendley coached against Tony Smith.
Hersey's hall of fame coach lost in the Class 4A semifinal to Smith's Bolingbrook team which went on to win the 2011 state girls basketball crown.
They were pitted against each other again on Saturday at the Chicagoland Invitational Showcase at Fremd High School.
However, this time Smith was coaching 4A No. 7-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor, and this time Fendley's Huskies, ranked No. 1, came away with a 34-26 triumph.
"We talked before the game and I was saying hopefully if we get some kids healthy, maybe we can reunite downstate again," Smith said. "That would be nice. She is a great coach and is doing a great job with that program. Last spring, she had a great team (ranked No. 1 in the state poll) and she has another real good team this season."
Fendley's team improved to 7-1 while the Vikings dropped to 6-2.
H-F was without its leading scorer, junior Alyssa Latham (19 ppg., knee), and senior point guard Rachyl Robinson (thigh).
"Without those two pieces, it gave us a chance to play other kids and they did some good things," Smith said. "We just didn't close it out."
Trailing 4-0 with less than five minutes left in the first quarter, Katy Eidle (11 points) fired home a 3-pointer from the left side and the Huskies were off on a 9-0 run.
The Michigan recruit then completed a 3-point play on a fastbreak layup to give the Huskies a 6-4 lead with 4:34 left and they never relinquished the advantage. Kelsey Neary's 3-pointer made it 9-4 with 3:59 left in the period. Neary hit another long range shot with 45 second left to give Hersey a 14-7 lead after one period.
The Huskies scored all 7 of their second-quarter points in the final 1:41, getting 2 free throws by Meghan Mrowicki, a 3-pointer by Mrowicki (11 points) and an 18-footer by Natalie Alesia just before the halftime buzzer to put them in front 21-12.
The Vikings opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run before Hersey scored for a 23-19 lead. A 3-point play from Mrowicki made it 26-19. Buckets by the Vikes' Skye Echols and Anna Liese Torian (team-high 9 points) got H-F to within 26-23 after three quarters.
The Huskies, who were playing their fifth straight game out of six away from home, outscored the Vikings, 8-3, in the final eight minutes.
Eidle's 3-pointer, a free throw by Mrowicki, layup by Val Allen and steal and putback by Eidle gave Hersey a 34-24 lead with 1:45 left.
"We just had to fix things that weren't working," Eidle said. "Unfortunately, our shots weren't falling. Fortunately, the defense was able to boost us up at the end."
"In the fourth quarter when we switched our defense and I thought Kelsey Neary did a really nice job out on top of it," said Fendley, whose team's only loss is by 1 point at Barrington in overtime. "We'll take winning ugly over not winning. But this was a struggle. I don't know if playing a conference game (win over Rolling Meadows) the night before affected us but we're just thrilled to get the win.
"They were missing two kids. And missing their leading scorer is obviously huge. I would love for us to have been able to play a good game and for them to be at full strength. I think the game would have looked different."