Fink's late 3 helps Naperville North upset Hersey
Naperville North junior point guard Sydni Fink watched several of her teammates swish 3-pointers during a pivotal third quarter on Wednesday.
As Abby Drendel, Abby Homan and Peyton Fenner combined to drill five 3s in the third to build a seven-point lead against Hersey, Fink bid her time to make an impact in the scoring column.
"It was very exciting in the third quarter," Fink said. "It inspired me."
Fink scored her team's first two points and their final basket to finish with six points to lead Naperville North to a 51-49 victory over Hersey in the opening quarterfinal of the 2nd Annual Morton College Girls Basketball Tournament.
Fink saved her lone 3-point attempt for the end of the game, canning a 3 from near the corner to give Naperville North a 50-46 lead with 1:24 left in regulation. She also made a free throw with 0.7 ticks remaining.
"My team is always telling me to shoot the ball, so I waited until the right chance and just took it late in the game," Fink said. "I was happy to take the shot, and that it went in because it got us up. It was a fun game against a very good team. It was very exciting, and we can now keep going."
Naperville North (8-6) advances to Thursday's 6:45 p.m. semifinal against Geneva; Hersey will paly Deerfield. Naperville North's balanced scoring attack included 12 points by Drendel, 10 points each from Fenner and Homan and eight points for Layla Henderson.
Hersey (14-2) had its 14-game winning streak snapped despite mounting an impressive comeback after trailing 40-33 late in the third quarter. Junior center Annika Manthy was a beast in the paint, helping her team erase deficits and build momentum to finish with a game-high 19 points. Senior Natalie Alesia played solid defense and hit several clutch shots to end with 15 points and Katy Eidle added 10 points.
"My teammates fed me the ball and our communication was really good and we have really good chemistry and played unselfish," Manthy said. "We flowed really well together, but needed to rebound better. Natalie had an amazing game, and they were so tight on Katy, so that left us wide open in the post."
The Battle of the Huskies turned into a grind-it-out affair, especially in the first half. Neither team could find any rhythm, with the high-scoring Eidle held to just four points and two steals.
The Michigan recruit battled finding open space to launch her trademark jumper or lanes to attack the basket, not attempting her first shot until the 3:19 mark of the first quarter, even falling victim to losing a 3-pointer after her shot was waved off due to an offensive foul late in the half.
Hersey entered the game with a 14-game winning streak after losing their season opener to defending Class 3A state champion Carmel on Nov. 15. Even with senior Meghan Mrowicki sidelined and Eidle struggling to find open looks, Hersey erased a four-point deficit by pounding the ball inside to seize a 23-21 lead following Alesia's half-court 3-point banker at the buzzer.
Hersey managed to seize a 46-43 lead early in the fourth following a putback by Manthy, but Naperville North reeled of seven unanswered points, highlighted by Fink's 3-pointer to advance.
"We played really well in the fourth quarter and hit some (big) shots," Fink said.