Hersey shows it’s the best in the MSL East with win against Prospect

Hersey's girls basketball team came into the Prospect Field House on Wednesday night knowing a win would give them their 15th Mid-Suburban League divisional title.

The Huskies had to be a confident bunch after a 62-38 win on their home court over the Knights on Jan. 8.

That confidence hardly waned in the rematch as first-year Huskies coach Courtney Ludois watched her team report home 49-33 in the Jean Walker Field House in Mt. Prospect.

"Getting this for Ludois in her first season was motivation for us," said Hersey sophomore guard Kate Donovan, who scored a game-high 16 points and played her usual stellar defense.

Hersey (19-8, 9-1) will face MSL West champion Fremd (22-6, 10-0) for the league title next Wednesday.

"There was a lot of talk that we weren't going to make it this far," Donovan added. "A lot of people didn't think for sure that we'd be winners of the East, but we proved them wrong."

The Huskies proved their first win over Prospect (18-12, 7-3) was no fluke when they jumped ahead 27-8 at half.

"We have momentum, we are on a streak right now," Donovan said. "We wanted to win this as a team."

And that they did, as junior Kiki Craft grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, mostly on the offensive end.

"We talked about No. 23 (Craft) being able to get offensive rebounds," said Prospect coach Matt Weber. "And she did a great job of giving her team second-chance opportunities and that was really a difference-maker early."'

Kristin Wentling and Grace Grabowy each added 8 points while Annika Manthy and Craft each chipped in 6.

Hersey graduated four starters from last year's MSL East championship team coached by retired hall of famer Mary Fendley, who was in the stands on Wednesday.

"I'm really proud of our kids," said Ludois, who was an assistant at Fremd the past nine years. "We graduated four starters and I don't think many people picked us to win the East, but these girls continued to get better all season."

Two free throws and a rebound bank shot by Craft gave Hersey a 4-0 lead with 5:41 in the first quarter. Allie LInke's 10-foot fadeaway made it 4-2 with 4:49 left before Hersey got a big driving layup by Donovan and a layup by Manthy put the Huskies ahead 8-2 after one quarter.

Hersey didn't lose a beat in the second quarter, getting a driving layup by Ava Hardwood (5 points) and a 3-pointer from Grabowy to lead 13-2 with 4:46 unitil half.

After a Prospect timeout the Huskies outscored the Huskies 14-4 the rest of the half, getting 4 points from Manthy, a driving layup and three-point play by Kristin Wentling , a fastbreak layup (assist from Wentling) and 5 points from Grabowy, including her second 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to make it 27-8 at the break.

"We had a really good defensive start and that's what got us the lead," Ludois said.

Hersey built the lead to 37-13 with 31 seconds left in the third quarter.

But Prospect had a run left and pulled to within 39-29 on a 3-pointer from junior Sadie Splinter with 5:08 left in the game. She finished with 10 points, all in the fourth quarter.

Senior Skylar Splinter led the Knights with 11 points while Linke also had 10.

"We made a little run at them in the second half," Weber said. "But we had just dug ourselves too big a hole."

Linke's driving layup got Prospect to within 41-31 with 2:32 left but Hersey finished on a 9-2 run, including four free throws by Donovan.

"Prospect is tough, they weren't going to lay down," Ludois added. "They cut it to 10 points twice and never went away. But I feel our composure and patience paid off down the stretch."

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