For openers, you couldn’t beat this one.
And one player, although she gave it a great shot, couldn’t beat a team Tuesday night.
Chicago-area girls basketball powers Hersey and Niles West kicked off their seasons Tuesday night in the Ken Carter Gymnasium with DePaul coach Doug Bruno, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw and Tennessee assistant Dean Lockwood among those in the crowded stands.
They were there to watch Niles West star junior Jewell Loyd, who didn’t disappoint with a career-high 45 points, the most Hersey coach Mary Fendley has seen in the Huskies gym since taking over the program 18 years ago.
Fendley also saw her team take over the lead for good in the first quarter en route to a 66-56 triumph over the Wolves.
Loyd wasn’t the only D-I player on the floor.
Hersey senior Megan Rogowski, a DePaul recruit, picked up steam in the second half, scoring 18 of her 22 points (7-of-12 with 1 3-pointer in the game) while also guarding Loyd most of the game.
“Our whole team was almost outscored by Jewell,” said Rogowski, who also contributed 10 rebounds and 8 assists. “She put up unbelievable numbers. I felt like she never missed. She’d pull up and hit. She’d take it to the basket. Forty-five points? Unheard of.”
The Huskies played like they’ll be heard from all season.
“We made only 5 turnovers,” Fendley said. “I told the girls I thought rebounding would be really important and I thought it was fantastic along with our defensive positioning.”
Junior Maggie Hogen stepped up to grab 11 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, along with 6 points.
Junior point guard Jen Hall delivered big in her first varsity start, collecting 15 points and 5 assists, while senior Stefanie Mueller added 11 points.
“It was really exciting to make my first start,” said the 5-foot-5 Hall. “I loved it. I’ve been waiting two years for this.”
Loyd’s previous career best was 40 points against New Trier last season.
“She’s amazing, unbelievable,” Hall said. “What a great player.”
“Yes, I scored 40-something, but we didn’t win it means nothing,” said Loyd, who was 18-of-31 from the field with 6 3-pointers and 6-of-7 on free throws. “I could have scored 50 points, but if we don’t win, it means nothing.
“We just all have to get better as a team and see what happens Thursday (vs Zion-Benton).”
Wolves coach Tony Konsewicz called it “probably the best high school girls basketball performance” he had seen.
“I’ve seen Jewell since the sixth grade and every time I see her she gets better,” he said. “And (Megan Rogowski) is a top notch player. She wore down Molly (Kleppin, Wolves sophomore guard defending Rogowski).
“We just didn’t have anyone else step up. It was just a lack of a supporting cast.”
Rogowski had back-to-back assists for fast-break layups by Mueller and Hall late in the first half to give Hersey a 29-22 advantage.
The Wolves got to within 34-32 late in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Loyd but Hersey answered with a 3-pointer by Hall, 2 free throws and an off-balance 16-footer by Rogowski to extend the lead to 39-32.
Hersey led by double-digits the entire fourth quarter.
Huskies senior Michaela Dwyer scored all 5 of her points in the second half.
“It was our goal to step up as a team and help Megan,” Hall said. “Rebounding was huge for us.
“And we definitely knew Megan would start making her shots. It was just a matter of time.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.