Boys basketball: Handy, Meadows have blast in blowout win over Hersey
As the running clock ticked down in Rolling Meadows 60-32 home win over Hersey on Thursday night, Mustangs head coach Kevin Katovich made a substitution to the lineup that brought the near-capacity crowd to its feet.
Senior guard Jaxxon Handy made his return for the first time since he suffered a serious lower leg injury at the Chuck Mitchell Thanksgiving Tournament Final on Nov. 26.
Despite missing his only field goal attempt, the warm energy coming from his classmates and the home and visiting crowds made Handy feel like he had just been named most valuable player.
"It's a great feeling," Handy said after his first minutes on the court after a 19-game absence.
"I was excited to come back this season, then I went down with the injury. I just told myself, 'You can't predict it (and) I can't control that.' I just worked hard. It feels great to be back out there. Shoutout to my guys. They lifted me up, so I'm going to cheer for them the same way they cheered for me when I got back (on the floor)."
It also gave his head coach a good feeling as well.
"I'm really proud of how hard he's worked to get himself back (on the court) and on the home floor. He got a big cheer from everybody and that was a good thing."
Rolling Meadows (21-3, 7-0) moved themselves a step closer to a third straight MSL East Division title. The team can clinch a berth in February's MSL championship game by beating Buffalo Grove at home Tuesday night.
Mustangs' Foster Ogbannna started a trio of triples early in the first quarter. Those were followed by the first of Cameron Christie's five. The treys put Meadows up 9-0 at the 4:30 mark of the opening period.
Taking a 14-4 advantage into the second, Meadows put together another dominant quarter as it outscored Hersey 19-5 to go into halftime up 33-9.
Meadows held Hersey to just 4-26 shooting (15 percent) in the first half while it went 13-24 (54 percent) and 6-12 from beyond the arc.
The Huskies (14-10, 4-3) would get no closer than 19.
Christie led all scorers with 23, followed by Ogbannna with 15, Senior center Mark Nikolich-Wilson finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Sophomore Jackson Hupp paced Hersey with 11 points.
As he recovered from his injury, Handy served as a student coach and he said it allowed him to provide an good assessment of his team's performance.
"We were locked in. We take it one game at a time," Handy said. "We worked hard in practice and we did our thing (tonight). It was good to see them play hard. That's what we do. That's Meadows basketball."