Mrowicki injured in Hersey's loss
Hersey girls basketball coach Mary Fendley struggled to find the words to describe her emotions on Monday.
A member of the Illinois High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame with 501 career victories, Fendley has experienced nearly everything in the sport.
But Fendley was battling her emotions following a potentially serious right knee injury suffered by junior guard Meghan Mrowicki late in the second quarter of Monday's 73-37 loss to Fenwick in the 32nd Annual Coach Derril Kipp Hoopsfest at Benet.
Mrowicki, who committed to play soccer at the University of Notre Dame on Nov. 27, came down hard underneath the basket on her knee. Mrowicki's injury led to a long pause, affecting her teammates for the rest of the game. The Friars outscored the Huskies 50-17 the rest of the way.
"I can't find the words," Fendley said. "The game became completely secondary. We're just really worried about our friend. It's hard to play and just focus on anything else once Meg went down.
"She's a premier athlete, in our country. We would be equally upset if it happened to anyone, but it's loaded because she's such an elite athlete and team leader. She's such a light on our team, a force emotionally. When she went down, none of us had our emotions in check. We all were a mess. It's upsetting. We're all worried about our friend."
Mrowicki, who did not play basketball last season, scored 6 points before injuring her knee with 2:31 left in the first half and the Huskies (19-4) trailing 23-20.
The Huskies were stung by the injury, which was even more impacted when Fenwick's Amanda Behrend-Hansen, an Adelphi recruit, suffered an injury at the same spot just 30 seconds later.
Hersey junior guard Katy Eidle, a Michigan recruit, scored 10 points and Natalie Alesia also added 10 points. Alesia comforted her close friend with an emotional hug during halftime.
Eidle said the Huskies were shellshocked following Mrowicki's injury. Mrowicki shot 2-of-4 from the field against the Friars, and been a defensive stopper all season for the Huskies.
"It was hard to play, but we tried to play for her, but it's unfortunate we couldn't finish it out," Eidle said. "It was hard. You still have to play and finish. We're going to keep doing what we can for her until she comes back, even stronger than before."
Fenwick (10-8) played one of its best games of the season, shooting 10-of-20 on 3-pointers, led by Mia Caccitolo's game-high 16 points. She shot a sizzling 4-of-5 effort from beyond the arc, while Elise Heneghan finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists.
"Actually, it's funny because I was a little cold shooting in warmups," Caccitolo said. "I shot better in the game. I thought it was going to be very physical after those early injuries. We managed to contain ourselves. It was good basketball."
Fenwick coach Dave Power was honored after the game for his accomplishments in girls basketball, including over 1,000 wins. Caccitolo said the Friars are aiming to send Power off with a memorable farewell.
"We have a lot of talent. The starters have been playing together for years. It's really started to show in the second half of the season."