Another fast start, another Hersey victory
Elgin coach Dr. Nick Bumbales knew all about Hersey's fast starts this season.
And then he saw it in person Wednesday in the first round of the Bill Neibch Falcon Girls Basketball Classic at Wheaton North High School.
Taking advantage of a diamond press, the Huskies' defense was good as gold again.
Hersey scored numerous baskets off its press in the first quarter, racing to a 15-2 lead.
The Huskies increased the cushion to 25-2 at intermission before coasting home to a 35-17 victory.
Just a week earlier, Hersey darted to a 21-3 when it defeated Glenbrook South (the top seed at Wheaton North) and before that led 31-3 when it defeated Prospect in Mt. Prospect.
"They've been getting off to those kind of starts," Bumbales said of the No. 7-seeded Huskies. They always play good defense. "They've gone 14-2 here the last four years They are a strong team, well-coached and fundamentally strong.
"Mary (Fendley, Hersey coach) always has them competitive. Her expectations are always to come and play for the title. Anything less, and they are bit disappointed."
Fendley could not be disappointed in her team's first quarter on Wednesday.
A layup by Ashley Raulli followed by back-to-back layups from Casey Weyhrich gave Hersey a 6-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
The Huskies (8-5) were creating turnovers and quickly converting them for layups.
"Our diamond press really helped us get the lead, " said senior Erica Hill, who collected 6 points, 12 rebounds and 6 steals.
"It was probably the best it has worked. We worked well together and with our good chemistry, we are really bonding as a team."
"In addition to defending so well on our press, Erica was able to get 12 rebounds, too," Fendley said.
Hill and the Huskies were able to benefit from the press in the win over Glenbrook South, too.
"That game was really exciting for us," Hill added. "We weren't really expecting that and I think it made other teams start to watch out for us."
Bumbales watched his senior guard Kristin Tayag hit a 17-footer for the Maroons' only basket in the first half.
It came with 5:52 left in the first quarter to cut the deficit to 6-2.
Hersey closed the half with an 18-0 run, getting a 3-pointer by Weyhrich to make it 18-2 early in the second quarter.
Renee Poulos' 14-footer just before the halftime buzzer made it 24-2.
"Let's just say it was fun to watch our press in the first quarter (15-2 lead)," Fendley said. "The kids did a nice job sharing the basketball, getting lots of steals and driving to the basket.
"Unfortunately, we had a hard time scoring when we came out of our press."
Morgan Harris (8 points) and Weyhrich (7 points) each had 4 steals while Poulos (4 points) grabbed 7 rebounds. Meg Cerniglia had 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal while Sara Bayerle chipped in 4 points and 3 rebounds.
"When they stopped pressing, that helped us," Bumbales said. "We just needed to take a deep breath and get going again. Unfortunately, it took two quarters for that but I was happy with how we responded at the end. As a group, we started to get more aggressive."
Junior guard Maggie Powers led the Maroons (3-11) with 9 points while Abby Pierre-Louis had 4.
"Maggie Powers did a good job taking care of the basketball," Bumbales added. "We just need to play all the time like we did in the fourth quarter to be competitive."
The Huskies will look to continue to their competitive play when they face No. 2 seed Wheaton North in today's second quarterfinal at 4:30 p.m.
It is the 14th straight year that Fendley has the Huskies playing in the winner's bracket.
"Our goal is to always outplay our seed so now we have a chance to do that," Fendley said.
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