MCHENRY – For the first half of their IHSA Class 4A McHenry Regional game Monday, the host and 19th-seeded Warriors looked lost.
The second half was a different story, as McHenry pulled away from No. 16 seed Grant for a 53-41 victory to advance to the regional semifinals. McHenry (12-15) will face top-seeded Stevenson at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Warriors fell behind, 7-0, in the first three minutes. Two shots during that stretch hit the backboard but not the rim.
McHenry finally was able to put the ball in the basket, going on a 15-7 run for the rest of the first quarter to take a 15-14 lead. In the second quarter, just eight combined points were scored, two points in the first six minutes. The McHenry lead remained at one going into the second half at 19-18.
In the second half, the Warriors built an 11-point lead. Grant rallied to pull within five but couldn’t get any closer.
McHenry coach Tim Paddock said that he had a simple message for his team in the locker room at halftime.
“We were playing great defense, but we haven’t been scoring,” Paddock said. “We had some good looks that didn’t go down in the first half. That’s all we told them. ‘You guys played your butts off, we’re up one, go make some plays in the second half’ and they did.”
Kyle Postal and Greg Johnson each scored 13 points, while Cody Freund and Nick Bellich each added 11 during a balanced scoring night for the Warriors. Postal said there was a different mentality with the team after the break.
“I think we rebounded better, came out with a bigger fire and tried to run more,” Postal said.
McHenry now faces the state's third-ranked team in Class 4A and a team that is getting national attention in Stevenson. Paddock added that his players know what the task is in front of them with the top-seeded Patriots.
“They’re not just good for the area but, from what we understand, they are the No. 5 team in the country,” Paddock said. “Our kids know that, and you can’t hide from that. It’s an honor and a privilege to put ourselves in a situation to play them. Let’s go out there and give it our best shot.”