Hersey holds on for thrilling 68-67 win over Benet

Benet, the top-ranked Class 4A girls basketball team in the state, almost pulled off one of its greatest comebacks of all time.

But No. 2 Hersey dug in at the end and pulled out one of its most dramatic wins, 68-67, in hall of fame coach Mary Fendley's 30 years. The game was part of Fremd's Chicagoland Showcase.

Her Huskies led by 17 points with less than 6:20 left in the game only to see the Redwings charge back into a 63-61 lead on 2 free throws by Magdalena Sularski (11 points) with 1:53 left.

But Meghan Mrowicki, who led Hersey with 24 points, converted 2 free throws to get the Huskies back on track, tying the game at 63.

It was Mrowicki's rebound layup with 18 seconds left that gave Hersey a 66-65 lead.

When Benet missed a 15-footer, Katy Eidle secured the rebound and made 2 free throws with 4.1 seconds for a 68-65 lead.

Hersey immediately fouled Lenee Beaumont (game-high 30 points) and the senior standout made 2 free throws to cut it to 68-67 with 3.4 seconds left.

After an out of-bounds violation, Benet got the ball back under its own basket but the Redwings had a pass intercepted by Eidle and Hersey (8-1) won the for the eight straight time.

Eidle (7 assists, 5 rebounds) finished with 19 points while Kelsey Neary (3 steals) and Natalie Alesia (5 assists) each had 7. Teammate Annika Manthy collected 8 rebounds.

"Huge game for us," said Mrowicki, a Notre Dame soccer recruit. "It was really hard when we thought we had it secured and then have them come back and make it so close. But the biggest thing is that we really worked together as a team. We're always together and like being around each other. That's what makes us good."

Beaumont was great for Benet (5-2).

"Emilia (Sularski, who had 9 points) hit a couple of big baskets (back-to-back 3-pointers that tied the game at 61) and Beamont was awesome," said Benet coach Joe Kilbride, who also got 10 points from Samantha Trimberger. "She's the best player around. But credit Hersey. They outplayed us for all but the last 6:20. I think everyone in the gym had us dead and buried but we had a great fourth quarter. It was just a great effort from the kids who gritted it out and found a way to get back in it."

And Hersey found a way at the end.

"Honestly, it was pretty worthy of a No. 1 vs. No, 2," Fendley said. "Obviously being competitive I really wanted to win, but at one point I was just thinking about what a great atmosphere and environment this was. Fremd does this whole event up right and it's just an honor to play in it."

"Meg (Mrowicki) hit those clutch free throws (to tie it at 63), Sabrina (DiVito) hit a big free throw at the end that gave us the lead back (at 64-63 following an intentional foul with 1:18 left) and we had a big steal by Katy at the end. I'm just thrilled to be here and so happy to win over a great team."

"I knew we had something in us to pull it out," said Eidle, a Michigan pledge. "We come to practice every day and work so hard. I knew every player on the court would pull it out for the team. I'm so happy for us and this is just one step to the playoffs and state. It feels great."

In an earlier game, Barrington improved to 6-2 with a 61-57 triumph over Geneva as the Fillies' 'Player of the Game' Molly O'Riordan scored a game-high 20 points. Sophie Swanson added 18 and Gwen Adler 17 for the Fillies, who sealed the win when Swanson made 2 free throws with 2.9 seconds left. Player of the Game Leah Palmer of Geneva (4-2) netted a game-high 21 points while Lauren Slagle added 9.

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