Neary's defense helps Hersey down Mother McAuley

Updated 12/21/2021 9:08 PM

Just this past June, Kelsey Neary finished up her sophomore season on Hersey's lacrosse team with a team-high 59 goals.

She also knows how to score 'field' goals in her winter sport.


The Hersey girls basketball guard had three on Saturday for 7 points, including a 3-pointer, as the state-ranked Huskies (13-3) defeated Mother McAuley 58-44 at the 'Grow The Game' shootout on the North Central College campus in Naperville.

Also, throw in 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 rebounds for the Neary.

But we still haven't gotten to the 5-foot-8 junior's most important role in the Huskies' second straight win after setbacks to Prospect and Carmel.

"It often goes unnoticed but I don't think many basketball people could not have noticed Kelsey's defense on Isabella Finnegan (5-foot-11 Indiana State recruit who finished with 20 points)," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "(Finnegan) is just a terrific basketball player and of course you have to have help on her. But I think Kelsey's initial defense on her was really tremendous. And Kelsey scored, rebounded and had assists so I was really happy with her all-around game."

It was Neary's 3-pointer with 5:41 in third quarter that gave Hersey the lead for good at 30-27.

Junior Katy Eidle, who scored a team-high 20 points with 3 steals, tossed in a 17-footer from the baseline that extended Hersey's lead to 36-29 with 2:20 left in the third period. McAuley never got closer than the 40-36 score after three quarters.

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Eidle scored Hersey's first 7 points of the final period for a 47-39 advantage.

"Eidle is a phenomenal player and they are just a solid team overall," said McAuley coach Keisha Newell. "Hersey is one of the best teams in the state and we love competing against them."

The Huskies defeated McAuley last month on their home floor as part of the Buffalo Grove Thanksgiving tourney.

"We didn't know how it was going to go down," Eidle said. "We knew they (McAuley) were coming for us this game. It was kind of like when we played Barrington the second time. We beat them once and were trying to do it twice. Thank God this game we did do it and we did it by a lot more so that's even better. "

"It really is a good sign," said Fendley about her team's improvement.

"I think as a team we've improved a lot and our chemistry is only improving with each game," said Neary, a UConn lacrosse recruit. "And we're starting to click and we just know when to push it."

Sophomore Annika Manthy (6-3) pushed up her scoring average with a career high 14-points that included a nifty left-handed hook shot off a nice assist from Neary to give the Huskies an 11-9 lead after one quarter.


Junior Meghan Mrowicki finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds for Hersey while classmate Natalie Alesia had 5 points and 5 rebounds. Sabrina DiVito and Val Allen also contributed points for the Huskies.

"I'm really happy with how we played," Fendley said about her team's longest road trip of the season. "That's (McAuley) a really good team. Originally I thought we might play them in the championship of the bracketed tournament (but that had to be changed to just shootout games due to teams having to drop out due to COVID-19 protocols.

"I'm just thrilled to get another win against a really good team with an excellent player (Finnegan) and No. 22 (sophomore Maeve Egan, who hit 3 3-pointers) coming through with some nice shots, too."

Finnegan came into the game averaging 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals for McAuley (7-5).

"She is just a really consistent and reliable player for us," said Newell, who played at Marian Catholic. "We thought she played big. We just have to continue to clean things up and get better. I think we will be OK."

The Huskies go for three in a row on Wednesday in their final game of the 'Grow The Game' against Thornton Fractional North at 3:30 p.m.

"Hopefully, we'll try to keep this one (winning streak) going," Fendley said.

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