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The 38th annual Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship between host Hersey and Fremd looked even on paper.
It was even on the floor, too, for 3˝ quarters before Fremd gradually pulled away to an 8-point lead with 50 seconds left.
But the Vikings still couldn't breathe easy.
All-stater Megan Rogowski tossed home a pair of 3-pointers in a span of five seconds to bring the Huskies to within 3 points with 38 second left.
But Fremd answered as senior Megan Gray (team-high 14 points) and senior Sarah Power each hit 2 of 2 free throws in the final 36 seconds -- lifting the MSL West champs to a 47-42 victory on Wednesday at the Ken Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
"We watched enough tape to know that was coming from Megan Rogowski," said Fremd coach Dave Yates, whose team (23-6) won the school's first MSL girls basketball crown since taking four straight from 2001-04.
"But we did what we needed to do and knocked down the free throws at the end. We're shooting about 75 to 80 percent at the line."
Hersey (22-7) suffered one of its poorest shooting percentage games of the season.
Despite owning a 27-12 edge on the boards in the first half, the Huskies still trailed 24-23 at the break.
As usual, Yates went with his defensive gem Bridget Kubis on the high-scoring Rogowski (24 ppg).
"Yes, their defense was very good," said Rogowski, who has signed with DePaul. "But I couldn't hit shots, and my team couldn't hit shots. I never found my rhythm and my team never found its rhythm. Fremd can do that to you."
Kubis said she received plenty of help on Rogowski, who finished with four 3-pointers, one 2-point bucket and 2 free throws.
"She's a great player," said Kubis, who has defended several of the top guards in the state. "She has everything. It's definitely difficult to guard her. But I had help for sure. It was team effort. Every time they set a screen on me, there was someone there to help me."
The third quarter was tied three times before Fremd got ahead for good on a driving layup by sophomore Ashley McConnell (12 points) which made it 34-32 heading into the final quarter.
The Vikings held Hersey to only 2 free throws from 4:15 of the third quarter until 4:26 of the fourth period when senior Stefanie Mueller (11 points, team-high 12 rebounds) converted a 10-footer that brought the hosts to within 36-34.
Fremd then went on a 6-0 run for its biggest lead of the game (42-34).
McConnell started the rally with a rebound layup. Kubis added the front end of two bonus situations and McConnell finished the run with 2 free throws.
"Ashley McConnell plays way beyond her years," Yates said. "She knocked down some big shots. And this wasn't the first time Bridget Kubis has locked up an all-state kid."
Gray finished with 6 rebounds.
"This was one of our top goals and it feels incredible that we've worked so hard all season and then get to see it pay off."
"It's nice to accomplish this for our seniors so they can see a championship up on a banner," McConnell said.
Hersey coach Mary Fendley could not see fault in her team's effort.
"I thought we did everything we wanted to do," she said. "We worked hard to get good shots but sometimes they just don't fall. We took typically high-percentage shots for us.
"I'm proud of how we played. I thought our defense was great. We fought so hard for offensive rebounds but then missed the putbacks."
Huskies defensive ace Eileen Zydek scored 10 points and grabbed 7 rebounds while defending Fremd junior sharpshooter Jessi Wiedemann, who finished with 8 points. Jaimie Groot added 4 points.
The game marked one of the few times Fremd did not have a 3-pointer this season.
Hersey's 42 points matched its season low.
"We didn't want a low-scoring game," Yates said. "We missed a lot of layups early and they pounded us on the boards.
"Of course we wanted to win the MSL West, but we really wanted to get tested in a big game like this against a team like Hersey.
"This is a testament to these kids. They came out hard in the second half like they have all season. They really stepped up the pressure."