Rolling Meadows thwarts Hersey’s comeback

With first place in the Mid-Suburban East in the balance, Rolling Meadows’ girls basketball team came through when the game was on the line.

And it was senior Ciara McMahon’s shot from behind the line (3-point) that helped secure the Mustangs’ 39-32 triumph over visiting Hersey on Friday night.

Trailing by 10 points early in the second half, Hersey kept grinding away and drew within 34-32 when Kristin Wentling fired in a 17-footer with 2:36 left.

Hersey (8-5, 2-1) had a chance to tie it but Roisin Grandberry grabbed a missed shot with 1:40 left. Meadows held the ball until McMahon tossed home the big 3-pointer from the right side with one minute left for a 37-32 advantage.

Free throws by Emily Romanacce and McMahon in the final 28 seconds accounted for the final margin that lifted Meadows to 10-2 and 3-0.

“We told Ciara late in the game that if she had the open shot we want her to take it every time,” said Mustangs coach Ryan Kirkorsky. “It was a huge shot for her.”

Grandberry had a huge defensive game with deflections and more than a handful of blocks, including an eye-popping three in the final three seconds of the first half to send the hosts into the intermission with a 20-12 advantage.

“That was pretty cool,’’ Grandberry said of her dazzling swats of 3 shots in the final three seconds. ”I’ve never done that.“

“For a player her size (6-foot-4), Roisen just has the ability to do everything on the court,” Kirkorsky said. “I think she showed that tonight. She’s got such good timing and good awareness of what is happening in the game. She has really grown in the three years we’ve had her in the program.”

In the first quarter, it was Grandberry’s sophomore sister Dalia in the spotlight as she scored all nine of her points to help stake her team to a 12-4 lead. Her bank shot that gave the Mustangs an 8-0 lead came off a nifty assist from her sister.

“We needed different people at different times,” Kirkorsky said. “Dalia has been growing and she was great in in the post and finished plays tonight.”

“Dalia was amazing,” said Roisin, who was thrilled for her sister. “”It’s early in the season but we’ve been kind of an average team in the MSL the last three years but this kind of proved we mean business and that we’re a legitimate contender for a championship.“

McMahon’s first 3-pointer gave the hosts a 25-16 lead with 5:05 left in the third quarter. Hersey cut it to 25-20 with Annika Manthy’s 14 footer and freshman Sadie Marks’ rebound and driving layup.

Romanacce’s 3-pointer with 53 seconds left gave the Mustangs a 32-22 lead after three quarters. Romanacce finished with 9 points.

“We told Emily she would have some open looks. She had some last game,’’ Kirkorsky said. ”And she works on her shot so we told her to keep shooting. And it’s great that she knocked them down.“

Hersey kept chipping away and closed within 32-28 when Manthy scored on a nice pass from Kiki Craft with 5:05 left.

Manthy led Hersey with 12 points while Wentling had 8 and Kate Donovan 6, the final bucket coming on a big steal and layup in the fourth quarter.

“We got in a hole and got out of it with rebounding,“ said Manthy, a Richmond recruit going up against Loyola recruit Roisin Grandberry the entire game. ”We just had to come out stronger at the beginning of the game. This was a conference game and luckily we have another one with them at home. I thought my team fought very hard to the end so I am proud of everyone.“

“I told them ever since I started coaching them that I will never fault them for their effort,” said Hersey first-year coach Courtney Ludois. “We should have never been in that position in the first place but we were and they battled.

“I told them at some point, though, we can’t just play hard. We have to also play smart and we just didn’t play smart basketball. Rolling Meadows is having a great season. Credit to them and Ryan, who is really a great coach and he has a lot of good pieces. They had a really good game and we did not execute the way we needed to.“

Kirkorsky was hardly surprised by Hersey’s effort.

“I knew it would be a game like this,” said the veteran coach who also received 5 points from sophomore guard Elizabeth Andriano. “We made some runs. They made some runs. I’m just proud of our kids for toughening it out .”

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