After going nearly nine minutes without a point in a loss to Loyola on Monday, Fremd girls basketball coach Dave Yates got right to the point.
"We challenged the girls this week," he said. "We weren't happy losing to Loyola."
The Vikings got the message during finals week.
They passed their Mid-Suburban League West basketball exam Friday at Barrington on 'Pack the Gym' night with a 59-46 victory.
Senior Ashley McConnell and sophomore Haley Gorecki helped lead the way with 21 points apiece as the Vikes improved to 19-5 and 5-1, one-half game ahead of Palatine (5-2) in the MSL West.
After a tight first quarter, Barrington (13-9, 3-4) got its last lead at 15-13 when junior guard Brooke Gunderson hit a 3-pointer to start the second period.
The Vikes swung into command with a 12-0 run, getting 6 points apiece from McConnell and Gorecki.
McConnell made a steal near half court, flipped the he ball to Gorecki, who then made a nice pass back to McConnell for a layup and 25-15 lead.
"It was a big game for us," said Gorecki, who enjoyed her highest scoring game since returning from an ankle injury less than two weeks ago. "We really wanted to win and the team came through.
"We kept saying Barrington had finals this week, too, so that could not be an excuse. We told ourselves we had to come out ready to play."
Gorecki was ready to hit the boards, too, collecting a game-high 10 rebounds."
"Right now, it's 100 percent," Gorecki said about the ankle injury which sidelined for 13 games. "It wasn't hurting the first few games back, but I just might have been a little hesitant. My teammates have really helped push me through it. It's been a process. Obviously, there has been a lot of conditioning to get back."
Barrington closed to within 25-18 at intermission with a 16-footer by Gunderson and free throw by junior Angie Kirchoff.
A left-handed seven-foot scoop shot by Gorecki gave Fremd its biggest lead of the third quarter at 32-21.
Seniors Bernie Williams (3 rebounds) and Marilyn Lortz also had key baskets for Fremd in the third quarter.
Kirchoff's layup at the third-quarter buzzer cut the deficit to 41-34 but Fremd never let the hosts closer in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Brianna Lewis (8 points, 4 assists, 2 steals) drove for a layup and before McConnell scored a fastbreak layup and hit a 17-footer for a 49-34 cushion.
"We emphasize getting to the basket," Yates said. "That's what we want the kids to do and they did a good job at it. It was finals week and they were taking tests. So I'm very proud of them."
Barrington coach Babbi Barreiro was proud of Gunderson, who tossed home a career-high 19 points with three 3-pointers.
"Brooke looked good shooting the ball with some nice opportunities," Barreiro said. "And she played well defensively. I was happy for her. She's a good, hard-working player."
Kirchoff finished with 10 points and classmate Aoife Callanan hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for 6 points.
"I thought Angie worked hard all night and Aoife and Carrie Madden gave us some great minutes off the bench," Barreiro said. "I don't think we shot well in key spots and we had some turnovers which we are trying to avoid. But Fremd also played a nice defensive game."
The Fillies' coach was hardly upset by her team's intensity.
"We played four quarters and that is something we have struggled to do," Barreiro aid. "I know we have nice core of kids for the future but we have a really hard-working group of seniors and right now we are focused on this season."
The Fillies will host Fenwick today at 2:30 p.m. in the Sweet 16 tourney while Fremd travels to the McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook High School to face Neuqua Valley at 5 p.m.
"We are excited to be in that event and to be playing Neuqua Valley (ranked No. 3 in the Daily Herald rankings)," Yates said. "We know what is in front of us. We have a tremendous about of potential.
"We had a heart-to-heart talk (after the Loyola loss) about not playing up to our potential. I think kids showed it this game."