Fremd eludes Palatine
By Billy Smith
Trailing by 1 point with less than 20 seconds left in the game, Fremd junior guard Bernie Williams grabbed a crucial offensive rebound and dished it to Haley Gorecki.
The poised Vikings freshman laid it in with 12.2 seconds left for a thrilling 42-41 win at Palatine on Friday night.
The Vikings (7-0, 2-0), who were led by Gorecki (game-high 16 points) and Jessi Wiedemann (9 points), had to match the Pirates shot-for-shot throughout the Mid-Suburban West cross-town battle.
“She (Haley) doesn’t play like a freshman,” Fremd coach Dave Yates said. “We expected their best shot and they gave it to us.”
The Pirates (6-3, 1-1) came out hot in the first half, making 11 of their 15 shot attempts from the floor.
But they also turned it over 9 times as the Vikings played a high-pressure man-to-man defense and then switched in and out of a 2-1-2 half-court trap and a 1-2-2 defense.
“We were prepared for that and it took a few possessions to get used to, but I thought the girls handled it well,” Pirates coach Leslie Schock said. “(Fremd guard Ashley) McConnell is one of the best on-the-ball defenders I’ve ever seen.”
Gorecki scored 10 of her 16 points in the second quarter to keep the Vikings even with the Pirates 24-24 at halftime.
The third quarter went back-and-forth, with neither team seizing a lead of more than 3 points.
Fremd led 36-34 going into the final period.
That’s when Pirates point guard Nia Pappas (team-high 14 points) took over, scoring two key baskets to put the Pirates up 41-38 with 59 seconds to play.
However, the Pirates went 0-for-4 from the free-throw line in bonus and double bonus situations in the final minute.
The Vikings drew to within a point on a pair of free throws by Wiedemann and took the lead following 2 missed free throws and Gorecki’s basket.
The Vikings’ defense clamped down and the Pirates were unable to attempt a shot to win the game.
“We learn something new about ourselves every game,” Wiedemann said.
“It was definitely a team effort,” Gorecki said. “Next time we see them, we will have to be ready to play.”