Fremd senior starter Catherine Ernst admitted she was a little nervous when the Vikings were nursing a 4-point halftime lead at Conant on Tuesday night.
We knew we had to take a step back, take a deep breath and come back out making the hustle plays, she said.
The defending Mid-Suburban League West champs did exactly that.
They kept the pressure on for all 16 minutes and now theres no pressure at all in terms of the divisional race.
Thats because the Vikings clinched their fourth straight West crown by posting a 42-20 decision while second-place Palatine fell to Schaumburg 52-51.
The Vikings (21-7, 7-2) earned the title with a 2-game lead over the Pirates (19-7, 5-4) with one to play.
That one to play happens to be Palatine hosting Fremd on Friday night at 6 p.m.
Sophomore Haley Gorecki led the Vikes with 14 points while Ashley McConnell (12 points) became one of the few MSL players to start on four straight MSL divisional championship teams.
A 3-pointer by Sidney OKeeffe got Conant (11-13, 3-6) to within 19-18 with 25 seconds left in the first half but McConnell was able to swing the momentum back to the Vikes when she hit a 3-pointer just before the second-quarter buzzer.
Ashley hit a huge 3-pointer there, said Fremd coach Dave Yates. Then Bernie (Williams) got us going in the second half with that 3-point play.
Less than a minute into the third quarter, Williams raced to the basket for a layup and converted her free throw to trigger an 8-0 run.
The Vikings never let Conant closer than 6, and pulled away in the fourth quarter by allowing Conant only one basket, a driving bank shot by Sarah Mazurek with 25 seconds left.
After our loss to Schaumburg (two gams ago), we (senior) said this is our last time and we cant lose anymore if we want to win the division, said Williams, who had 3 points and 3 rebounds. So this is a sigh of relief (winning).
We put things into perspective after that loss Schaumburg, Ernst added. We just said we have to put it all together for there for the our final three conference games.
Yates could not have been prouder of his players.
I thought Catherine, Brianna Lewis and Marilyn Lortz just hammered the offensive boards, he said. Thats something thats sometimes goes unnoticed.
Conant coach Dan Travers noticed the play of junior Katie Lomas (12 points) and freshman Nireet Dhillon.
I thought Katie showed she is one of good players in this conference, he said. And I thought Nireet (Dhillon) handled their pressure well. I thought their physicality hurt us.
We got hurt on the boards and by second shots. They made us work hard on defense. Haley Gorecki and Ashley McConnell are great players. The knocked down the shots.
We just didnt score enough points but I am proud of the way our girls stayed after it. Our girls battled.