Bardic's clutch play lifts Stevenson over Hersey for regional title
The thing about Stevenson's boys basketball team is that on offense anything can happen. Any player can step up when duty calls.
Friday night at the Lake Zurich Class 4A regional final, sophomore Aidan Bardic was that player.
Leading Hersey by only two points at 34-32 with 6:16 left in the game the Patriots came alive.
Michael Maloney scored for Stevenson, then Bardic scored four straight baskets. That opened the lead to 44-32 with 1:28 left, and the Patriots went on to win 50-36 over the Huskies.
"We have a very balanced lineup and several players like Bardic and Michael Maloney played well as did Jack Dabbs (8 rebounds, 2 blocks)," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "David Sulnius did a great job on defense for us. Defense wins games and were able to shut them down."
Bardic led the 22-7 Patriots with 18 points. Michael Maloney added 10, David Sulnius scored 9 and played his usual stellar defensive game.
"Defense is our focus and we did not start off well," said Sulnius. "We had to lock down what they like to do."
The win will now pit the Patriots against Prospect who stunned Palatine on their home floor 47-44 Friday night at the Barrington sectional.
Hersey (18-13) started well hitting 7 of 10 shots from the field in the first quarter to lead at one point 12-4 before ending the quarter up 15-12.
Jared Ryg, who led Hersey with 13 points, scored all four of the Huskies points in the second quarter as Hersey led at the break 19-18.
Stevenson came to life by scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter to lead 28-19 with 2:56 remaining.
Johnny Ryg's basket with 2:05 left broke a 7:40 scoreless streak for Hersey.
"We knew Stevenson was a very strong defensive team and that was one of their strengths," said Johnny Ryg. "They played a really good game on defense."
Max Menninga (9 points) opened the fourth quarter for Hersey with a three-point play. Bardic scored for Stevenson before Jackson Hupp scored with 6:44 left to close the gap to 34-32.
But then Bardic took over and the Huskies could not recover.
"What makes this team so dangerous is that any one of us can go off and have a big night," said Bardic. "Today, Hersey tried to take away our shooters and that made my job easier. I felt really good today. This was just super fun."
Hersey, who was trying to make the sectionals for the first time since 2008, fell short.
"We climbed back and I think we just ran out of gas," said Hersey coach Austin Scott. "Stevenson was very aggressive. Bardic really stepped up in the fourth quarter. Our seniors believed in themselves and made this a special season."