Hersey’s big 4th quarter beats Meadows, gives Huskies MSL East lead

Kate Donovan and her Hersey teammates saved their best for last Tuesday in Arlington Heights.

On a night where both teams were as cold as Lake Michigan, Donovan heated things up in the fourth quarter as Hersey powered its way past Rolling Meadows 39-29.

With the win, Hersey (17-8, 7-1) laid claim to sole possession of first place in the MSL East, a game ahead of both Rolling Meadows (18-7, 7-2) and Prospect. Hersey plays Wheeling on Friday and then plays at Prospect next Tuesday.

“It was just one of those nights when our defense had to follow through and it did,” Hersey coach Courtney Ludois said. “It was a little frustrating. But we did what we had to do down the stretch.”

Both teams struggled on the offensive end in the first half. They combined to shoot 25 percent (7-of-28) with 12 turnovers as Hersey took a 14-11 lead.

It didn’t get much better with Hersey holding onto a 20-19 lead after three quarters. That's when Donovan lit the spark.

The sophomore drove inside early in the fourth quarter, was fouled and then knocked down a pair of free throws.

After a basket by Meadows’ Ciara McMahon cut it to 22-21, Donovan hit a basket and then a three-pointer and suddenly Hersey was a scoring machine with a 27-21 lead.

“It took me awhile to start knocking down some shots,” said Donovan, who scored 7 of her 8 points in the fourth quarter.

“It was kind of in the moment kind of thing. But I think our defense controlled our offense and that helped.”

With Donovan leading the way, the Huskies weren't done. Kristin Wentling followed with a rebound basket to end a 7-0 run and give Hersey a 29-21 lead with 2:48 left.

Meadows got one more gasp when Olivia Zielinski drained a three to make 29-24 with 2:33 left.

Wentling then helped put the game away on a jumper off a pass from Donovan. Kiki Craft’s three-pointer ended all of the Mustangs’ hopes with 1:09 left to make it 33-24.

“We just started off a little rough,” said Wentling, who finished with 9 points. “We just reminded each other that we needed to step up and everyone had each other’s back. But defense wins games and that's what we had.”

Hersey, which hit just 5-of-34 shots in the first three quarters, converted 5-of-9 in the final quarter to get the win. The Huskies were led by Annika Manthy who had 10 points.

“We have two games left and we need to take care of business,” Ludois said. “I like where we are at. If we continue to get better each game then I think we are in a good spot.”

Rolling Meadows still has an opportunity to win or get a share of the MSL East title. With two games to play, the Mustangs will need wins in their final two games against Buffalo Grove on Friday and Elk Grove next Tuesday and then get some help.

“I wasn't surprised that this was a grinder of a game,” Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky said. “I told our kids we were in control of our own destiny, but now we are going to have to have some help from some other people.”

Roisin Grandberry led Meadows, which shot 25 percent (10-of-40), with 10 points, 8 rebounds and three blocks. Ciara McMahon and Emily Romanacce each had five points.

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