Alesia's closing surge rallies Hersey past Prospect

Natalie Alesia may have had the most important four minutes of her high school basketball career on Friday night at the Jean Walker Fieldhouse in Mt. Prospect.

With first place on the line in the Mid-Suburban League East, and her Class 4A No. 3 state ranked Hersey girls basketball team trailing Prospect 49-42 with 4:10 left in the game, Alesia scored her team's next 12 points as the Huskies rallied for a dramatic 58-51 triumph.

"We were not meshing the entire game until the last quarter," said the senior guard. "So this is good that we were able to pull out a victory. We deserved it. No. That's a lie. We did not deserve it until the last quarter."

Alesia started her scoring barrage with a 3-pointer to cut it to 49-44 with 3:08 left.

Then on consecutive plays, Kelsey Neary and Kiki Craft rifled terrific passes off rebounds to Alesia, who took off to the basket for fastbreak layups, the second one putting Hersey ahead at 51-49 with 1:55 left.

After Alli LInke's driving layup tied it at 51, Alesia struck again with a 3-pointer off an assist from Katy Eidle.

"For all the shots that Katy Eidle has made in her unbelievable career, to give up the shot she had and make the extra pass to Nat was something I liked as much as anyone of Katy's points," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "That was just getting it to a teammate who was slightly more open."

Eidle then sealed the deal with 4 free throws in the final 42.8 seconds.

Hersey, led by Eidle (23 points), Alesia (16), Annika Manthy (13) and Sabrina DiVito (6), improved to 16-3 and 4-0 while Prospect stands at 14-5 and 3-1. DiVito had 9 rebounds and Manthy 7.

"Sabrina was rock solid," Fendley said. "She hit shots when we needed them and she kept offensive rebounds alive. I think she is my player of the game. I don't think we get back into the game without the things she did."

Hersey trailed 31-20 as Prospect went on an 8-2 run to close out the first half with a 31-20 cushion. The big rally was capped by Nicole Atteo's 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

The Knights, who led by 12 midway through the third quarter, were led by Linke's 18 points. Skylar Splinter added 12 while Atteo and Molly Gilhooly each had 7.

"I think we're still learning how to close out games," said Prospect coach Matt Weber. "Credit Hersey. They have a lot of experienced players and they put a lot of pressure on us. I thought we didn't handle it very well. We've just got to learn how to be confident with the basketball and remain calm in those situations. But credit Hersey for continuing to fight. Our girls were fired up for this game. Hersey continued to weather the storm and we just have to work on closing out games."

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