Daily Herald
Defense serves Palatine
By John Leusch | jleusch@ailyherald.com
Published: 11/30/2012 11:39 PM

Palatine accomplished on Friday night what no Mid-Suburban League West girls basketball team had been able to do for more than two seasons.

The visiting Pirates notched a win over three-time defending champion Fremd.

The Pirates snapped the Vikes’ 25-game winning streak in the West with a 37-27 victory highlighted by man-to-man defense which limited the hosts to 1 field goal and 4 free throws in the second half.

Senior guard McKenzie Wiedemann (13 points), sophomore center Monica Masini (12 points) and senior guard Nia Pappas (9 points) led the scoring for the Pirates (7-1, 1-0) while the Vikings (5-2, 0-1) were paced by sophomore Haley Gorecki’s 11 points and 11 rebounds.

“It was our work on defense that won the game for us,” said Pappas (5 assists), who will spend her college days playing for Division I IUPUI. “We look forward to playing our man-to-man defense in every game we play.”

The Pirates took a big step forward after falling behind 9-2 when Bernie Williams converted a layup off a nice pass from Gorecki with 7:26 left in the second quarter.

Wiedemann (4 rebounds, 2 assists) then lit up the Pirates’ offense by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to cut deficit to 9-8.

She then connected for another long-range bomb which tied the game at 13-13 with 3:10 left in the half.

“We were attacking, then kicking it out to McKenzie,” Pappas said.

A 17-footer by Gorecki and 3-pointer by Ashley McConnell enabled Fremd to regain the advantage at 18-13.

But the Pirates got to within 20-18 at the break, thanks to a pair of free throws by Wiedemann and 3-pointer by Pappas with 15 seconds left.

“We talked at half about scoring 18 points and being down by 2 points,” said Pirates coach Leslie Schock. “We said, ‘Our offense is not going to win this game. Our defense is.’ The girls took that to heart and came out and played as hard as they could. I’m incredibly proud of them.”

Picking up the offensive slack for the Pirates was the 6-foo-1 Masini, who saw limited time in the first half due foul trouble.

With 5:35 left in the third quarter, her rebound bank shot tied the game at 20.

Gorecki’s rebound layup gave Fremd its last lead at 22-20.

The Pirates got the lead for good at 24-22 on back-to-back buckets by Masini.

The second was a turnaround 10-footer that banked softly off the glass for a 24-22 lead.

Masini scored all 12 of her points in the second half.

A free throw by McConnell got Fremd to within 26-24 with 6:41 left in the game but Palatine closed with an 11-4 run as Masini scored 6 more points in the final quarter. Teammates Erin Mayer and Samantha Heuertz also contributed key points in the final period.

“Coach just told me to take it to the basket strong,” Masini said. “Without my guards I can’t do it. It was a huge team effort.”

“I love that girl,” Pappas said of Masini. “She hit some really key buckets for us in the second half.”

Masini also pulled down 11 rebounds while teammate Morgan Radtke had 8 with 2 steals.

“I told Monica to take out the first-half frustration (from fouls) on the floor in the second half,” Schock said. “I told her they had no answer for her.”

The Pirates answered the call defensively in the fourth quarter, giving up just 4 points, all on free throws.

“You’ve got to put the ball in the basket to beat a good team,” said Fremd coach Dave Yates. “In my seven seasons (as the head girls coach) here, I can’t ever remember missing as many shots like we did. And they just weren’t jumps. They were layups and free throws. I thought our defense was outstanding but you can only rely on that so long. You’ve got to eventually put the ball in the basket.”

McConnell added 7 points for Fremd while Williams finished with 6.

“We’ve had a lot of good games,” Yates said. “I guess we’re allowed one hiccup. We’ll go and work hard and get back to how we know we can play.”