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Despite all that went on with the Hoffman Estates boys basketball program over the last week, it was Fremd that came out seemingly distracted Thursday night on the Hawks' court.
Despite height and depth advantages, the Vikings couldn't leverage them through most of the first half against an aggressive Hoffman Estates team playing its first game in more than a week after three forfeits in the wake of a hazing incident.
The young Hawks stayed with the taller Vikes on the boards, stayed with them defensively and forced the same number of first-half turnovers and shot the ball at a near-equal percentage for two quarters.
Then Fremd went to work on defense in the second half and pulled away steadily for a 58-43 Mid-Suburban West win and a 2-0 division record (4-2 overall).
"I think we played well defensively in the second half," said Fremd coach Bob Widlowski, limiting Hoffman to 16-of-44 from the floor, 2-of-11 on 3-pointers and hardly letting them get to the line. Or the rim.
It was 40-35 after three when junior forward Riley Glassman asserted himself. A 3-pointer to close the third quarter and 7 points in the fourth gave him a game-high 17.
"We knew we had to play defense," said the 6-foot-4 Fremd junior after Hoffman Estates' Olu Adelaya (15 points) kept getting to the rim. "When we're playing defense, we're getting turnovers."
And when the Vikes get turnovers, guards Kevin Kubis, Garrett Groot and Xavier Williams are running and setting up forwards Michael Krupa, Ben Carlson (12 points) and Tom Cordell. With Hoffman pressing, back screens and backdoor cuts produced open looks as well.
Fremd seemingly went from 40-35 to 52-39 in nothing flat in the fourth as Krupa and Benka hit free throws, Benka hit a drive and Williams and Glassman added more free throws while Hoffman was having ball-handling woes.
"We had 20 turnovers," said Hoffman Estates coach Luke Yanule.
In a 15-point game in which the rebounding was even, that made a big difference.
"Seems to be a fourth-quarter mentality," Yanule added about his team's penchant for hanging tough for three quarters. "Same thing happened against Huntley."
Plus, his team got in foul trouble, particularly Hoffman Estates' only true big man, Joe Biko.
The Hawks' Kamorarris Coleman remains out with a broken foot, Jordan Robinson was battling flu-like symptoms and Takuro Azumaya has a concussion.
"Our kids aren't making excuses," Yanule stressed. "They're interested in results."
The kind Fremd's getting.
And Widlowski knows why. In the second half last night, "We came out with a good attitude," he said. "We improved our execution in the second half."
Hoffman, meanwhile, welcomes a return to a more normal pattern.
"We'll be ready for Barrington," said Yanule, referring to the Hawks' MSL West foe next week. "It's been a weird week."