Carmel hands No. 1 Hersey its second-straight loss
When the month of December began, Carmel was among the teams receiving votes in the Class 4A state girls basketball poll.
After Saturday's game in Arlington Heights, the Corsairs were receiving accolades from their coach Ben Berg, whose team prevailed 46-42 over Hersey, which was ranked No. 1 to start the month.
"We were excited coming into this game," said Bucknell recruit Grace Sullivan, who tossed in a game-high 19 points in the Carter gymnasium. "We've had a little bit of a losing streak (three losses to Barrington, Nazareth and Whitney Young in the last four games) so we came in with a lot of energy hoping to get up on them early."
That's exactly what Carmel (9-3) did, gaining an 8-3 lead following Mia Gillis' 8-foot left-handed scoop in the lane.
Hersey (11-3) fought back and tied the game at 10-10 on a rebound 8-foot bank shot by junior Natalie Alesia (11 points, 3 3-pointers).
The game was tied 12 and 19 before Michigan State recruit Jordan Wood scored the final 7 points of the first half, including a 3-pointer, for a 26-19 Corsairs advantage.
Carmel took its biggest lead at 36-24 when sophomore guard Anna Hartman assisted on classmate's Ashley Schlabowske's layup.
But Hersey got back to within 38-35 on a fastbreak layup by Michigan commit Katy Eidle with 6:17 left.
A steal by sophomore Annika Manthy (6 points) led to Eidle's basket that got Hersey to within 44-42 with 3:30 left, however, the Huskies did not score again and 2 free throws by Wood with three seconds left made it 46-42.
"We made such a nice run in the fourth quarter," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley, whose team fell to Prospect on Friday. "But give Carmel credit. We tried to storm back and they held on. I think we played much better in the second half. I thought our defense was much better doing the things we wanted. You want opportunities on offense and we had them. We just couldn't take advantage."
The Corsairs took advantage of big scoring games by Sullivan and Wood (17 points).
"They played great and led us today," Berg said. "They played within themselves and really did a nice job. I thought Anna Hartman did a great job defending Eidle. She was giving away a lot of size and really dug in. Mia Gillis (8 points) did a great job on their No. 3 (Megan Mrowicki, who scored 8 points), at times containing her."
Eidle, who was presented a basketball in honor of her recent 1,000th career point before the game from former Hersey 1,000-point scorer Mary Kate Fahey (New York University), led the Huskies with 15 points.
"Despite our lofty ranking, sometimes I have to remind myself that we have only one returning starter and our primary sub today played on the freshmen team last season," Fendley said. "We are still learning and I think we will continue to develop."
Berg called it a "really good" win for his team.
"I'm so proud of the girls," he said. "We've struggled in three of our last four games but we went back to practice and they took it upon themselves to get better on the defensive end. I felt we rebounded better, too, and we took care of the ball.
"We had a little glitch there in the fourth quarter but we kept our composure. I'm just very proud of the way the girls have progressed. We talked about how teams are going to make runs during a game. But I thought we controlled things."