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Williams’ energy sparks Fremd to victory for ‘pride’
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 2/1/2013 11:17 PM

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Fremd may have already clinched its fourth straight Mid-Suburban West girls basketball crown, but that didn’t mean the Vikings weren’t interested in Friday’s game at cross-town Palatine.

“These girls from both schools have been playing together for a long time,” said Fremd coach Dave Yates. “What does this game mean? Pride.”

And that’s what the MSL West champs showed as they recovered from a 7-1 deficit to post a 46-35 victory over a Pirates team that handed them a 37-27 loss in late November.

“We watched the tape from that first game,” said Vikings senior Bernie Williams (10 points, 2 assists). “All our shots were being rushed. This time we tried to take our time — rest on offense and play our hearts out on defense.”

It took the Vikings nearly six minutes to get their first basket, a driving layup by Ashley McConnell (15 points, 2 assists).

The senior guard, who finished her career 7-1 against the Pirates in MSL games, then made a steal and an assist to sophomore Haley Gorecki (game-high 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals), whose layup made it 7-5.

Nia Pappas converted a 3-pointer to give the hosts a 10-5 lead after one quarter.

But Fremd (22-7, 8-2) outscored the Pirates 14-4 in the second quarter, grabbing the lead for good when Williams drove the lane for alayup and an 11-10 edge.

“Bernie started the energy for us,” Gorecki said. “After one person brings up the energy for us, we all get going. We really wanted this game. We had to come back from that first game.”

Pirates coach Leslie Schock said her team (19-8, 5-5) went through a “lull” offensively in the second quarter.

“We’ve been known to do that all season,” she said.

“No lead is big enough in my mind against a team with offensive explosion like Fremd.”

A rebound bank shot by Bridget Ryan got Palatine to within 20-18 in the third quarter, but Fremd stretched the lead 35-25 on a layup by Gorecki.

Marilyn Lortz collected 3 rebounds and 2 assists for Fremd, while teammate Hannah LaBarge made 2 steals.

The closest Palatine got in the final quarter was 37-31 when Pappas (11 points) rebounded a miss and hit a 14-footer in the lane. Two free throws by LaBarge ignited a 9-4 run to close the game.

“Bridget Ryan played a ton of minutes against a fast and physical player like Ashley McConnell,” Schock said. “Honestly I thought Bridget did a pretty good job.”

Shock said that her senior guard McKenzie Wiedemann, who has been a prominent scorer for the Pirates, is out for the season with a knee injury.

“We showed we could still compete even without a player like McKenzie out there,” said Schock, who received a team-high 14 points from sophomore Monica Masini. “But 8 turnovers in the second quarter hurt. We called a timeout there and said we have to cut down on our turnovers and then we went out and made 5 more. I said to myself. ‘maybe calling a timeout wasn’t such a good idea.’”