Prospect edges Hersey to tie for MSL East lead
This time, in its biggest conference game of the season, Prospect's girl basketball team was ready for the situation.
Just like in their first meeting with state-ranked Hersey, the Knights held a 31-20 lead at half but wound up falling 49-42 in their own Jean Walker Field House.
On Friday night in the Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights, Prospect held off another furious comeback by the Huskies and prevailed 56-52 in the Mid-Suburban East showdown.
Prospect improved to 20-7 and 8-1 while Hersey dropped to 20-6 and 8-1 with one game to play.
A free throw by Prospect freshman Alli Linke tied the game at 52 with 1:41 left.
Nicole Atteo then deflected a pass into the hands of Skyler Splinter, who was immediately fouled and converted the two biggest free throws of her prep career for a 54-52 lead 46 seconds left.
After a Hersey timeout, Atteo recovered a deflection off a Hersey pass and was fouled. She hit 2 more free throws with 29.8 seconds for the final margin.
"I wasn't making my free throws at the start of the game so I knew I had to hit those and just lock into that moment," said Splinter, who shared team scoring honors with Zoe Brown (12 points apiece). Alli Linke added 11 for the visitors while Atteo had 10.
"At half we talked about what was going to happen," said Prospect coach Matt Weber. "We knew what to expect. We faced some adversity but took a deep breath, helped each other through it, took what the defense gave us and their press became a nonfactor after that."
Katy Eidle led the Huskies with a game-high 21 points, bringing her to within 18 of becoming only the second Huskie to score 2,000 points in a career.
Sophomore Annika Manthy added 14 points for Hersey while senior Meghan Mrowicki, who did not play the first time against Prospect due to an injury, added 12.
"Tons of credit to Meghan," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "She was so tough hitting so many key shots. And Kiki Craft, who had a great game against them last time, did not play this time (knee injury).
"I'm just so proud of this group of seniors (Eidle, Mrowicki, Kelsey Neary, Natalie Alesia, Mackenzie Ginder and Sabrina DiVito), It's a special group and although we're disappointed we couldn't get them a win on Senior Night, it definitely doesn't take away from their accomplishments."
A driving layup by Atteo put the Knights in front 14-10 after one quarter. The lead grew to 21-12 on Molly Gilholy's second a 3-pointer of the half.
Eidle's 3-pointer got Hersey to within 26-20 with 3:15 left before Prospect pulled away again 31-20.
Prospect's biggest lead in the second half was 13 points.
"We had that tough loss the first time and knew we had to take that anger and energy from that game," Splinter said. "We talked at half about being in the same position as that last game. We knew they could come back. We had to shut them down and play like we did when we built the lead in the first half."