McHenry tops Mundelein for first regional title since 2012

By his own admission, the moment was overwhelming for McHenry senior Marko Visnjevac.

Moments after his No. 2-seeded Warriors ousted No. 5 Mundelein, 65-46, to win the Class 4A Jacobs Regional on Friday, tears of joy poured down both his cheeks.

Who could blame him?

After all, not only had McHenry (25-8) clinched its first regional title since 2012, it also tied the school record for wins with 25, thanks in large part to his dominant performance.

Visnjevac fittingly scored a team-high 25 points, while shooting a red-hot 10 for 13 from the field — and sinking his final six shots. He scored 15 in the second half.

“I can’t even hold it together right now,” Visnjevac said. “Im getting emotional. We worked so hard for this moment from day one. I waited three years for this.

“My mom, dad, cousin, grandma, aunt, uncle and family friends were all in the stands. To be able to share this moment with them ... there aren’t words. I hope to be lucky enough to be in their shoes one day, watching a child of my own do something this special.”

The Warriors never trailed following Visnjevac’s 3-pointer to open the game, but did endure a brief scare late in the third quarter.

The Mustangs (11-23) valiantly cut the McHenry lead to just six at 34-28, with about 2 minutes left in the third.

That’s when the light switch suddenly turned on for the Warriors.

McHenry went on a 10-3 run in the final 1:30 of the third, thanks to back-to-back 3s from Visnjevac and Dylan Hurckes, who had 13 points off the bench.

That was followed by a steal and layup from Caleb Jett with 45 seconds left in the quarter, then a floater in the lane that found net by Hurckes with 17 seconds to go.

McHenry’s lead ballooned to 13 to end the third, and the Warriors led by as many as 24 in the fourth and got there with a pair of huge exclamation marks.

First, Adam Anwar (10 points, five rebounds) tossed down a dunk with 2:26 left. Then, on the very next possession, senior Hayden Stone (five points, seven rebounds) tossed down a two-handed dunk of his own with 2:03 remaining, sending the large McHenry student section into an absolute frenzy nearby.

“I saw the defender bite on a pass fake,” Stone said. “And it registered in my mind, Adam just dunked, so I’m going to have to now, too. What do I have to lose?

“It was just one of those situations where the opportunity was right to go for it. I already knew we were about to win, so the adrenaline was massive. But when I came off the rim and saw the bench and student section going nuts, it was adrenaline times a thousand.”

McHenry shot 70 percent from the field (14 for 20) in the second half, including an 8 for 9 shooting performance in the final eight minutes.

Defensively, the Warriors held Mundelein to 37.2 percent (16 for 43) shooting. More than half those made field goals came from Mustangs guard Derek Bishop, who was 9 for 19, and notched a team-best 25 points.

McHenry advances to face No. 7 seed Hononegah in a 4A Rockford (Guilford) Sectional semifnal at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Hononegah beat Guilford, 64-57 on Friday, to win the Rockford (East) Regional.

Kyle Maness (three points), Tyler Hurckes, Carter Sites, Marko Stojich, Adam Bronowicki and Marcus Honea all saw playing time and contributed to the Warriors’ win.

First-year McHenry coach Corky Card, much like Visnjevac, had tears welling up in his eyes as he watched his players trim the net into keepsake pieces after the game.

“I’m so incredibly proud of how we played tonight,” Card said. “Just a wonderful effort from start to finish. But I can’t take the credit. These kids are the ones who earned this with their hard work and determination every single practice.

“Former coach Chris Madson set the groundwork for this moment before I arrived. So did assistant coach Rob Niemic and every staff member of ours. This is really a community moment for us and our fans, who showed up in huge numbers tonight. It’s just ... beyond special.”

One big question now lingers.

Does McHenry’s magical season end soon, or is there something else left in Card’s bag of tricks as they play on?

“You just never know,” Card said. “If we keep showing up with this energy and intensity at both ends ... you truly never know.”

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