Correction: The MSL title game for girls basketball will be played at Rolling Meadows High School at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect location.
What: 40th annual Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship
Where: Rolling Meadows High School
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Who: Rolling Meadows (24-2) vs. Fremd (22-7)
Why: Because Rolling Meadows won the Mid-Suburban East with a 10-0 record and Fremd won the MSL West with an 8-2 record (losses to Palatine and Schaumburg).
Meadows history: Rolling Meadows made its first appearance in the MSL championship game last year since 1991 and its third overall. The Mustangs lost to Fremd in 1975 and fell to Hersey in 1994 before getting their first win in 2012 with a 52-51 overtime win over Fremd.
Fremd history: Fremd is the winningest team in title game history. The Vikings won the first four and eight more under Hall of Fame coach Carol Plodzien, who went 12-for-12. Under current coach Dave Yates, the Vikes are playing in their fourth title game. They lost to Wheeling in 2010, Hersey in 2011 and Rolling Meadows in 2012.
2012 title game: It was one of the most exciting ones in the 40-year history. With time winding down in overtime, a well-guarded Jackie Kemph dished the ball out of the paint to her Meadows teammate Alexis Glasgow, who was standing near the 3-point stripe. Glasgow saw an opening and dashed to the basket for a layup that beat the clock for a 52-21 triumph.
Fremd fans apparently misinterpreted the officials' signals and thought the final shot had been waved off after the buzzer. They rushed the floor and began celebrating with the Viking players.
Within a minute, though, officials straightened things out and Meadows began its celebration of the school's first championship in three tries. It was a heartbreaking loss for Fremd, which had taken a 51-50 lead on 2 free throws by junior Bernie Williams with 14.3 seconds left in OT.
Kemph scored 20 points in the game for Meadows while Haley Gorecki led Fremd with 20. Ashley McConnell had 19, including 3 3-pointers in the first quarter for the Vikings.
"After that game, so many people were telling me it was one of the greatest games they'd ever seen in the Fremd gym," said Vikings coach Dave Yates., "And there have been many great ones, boys and girls, there. So it's a lot to live up to this time. But it's an opportunity to play a great team before the playoffs. Any dress rehearsal you can get at this point is great."
2013 cast: Many of the players are back.
Mustangs juniors Jackie Kemph (20.5 points, 7.4 assists. 3.1 rebounds, 3.7 steals), Alexis Glasgow 17.7 points, 4 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 69 3-pointers) and Jenny Vliet (10.0 pts, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 40 3-pointers) started a year ago in this game. Ashley Montanez (6.7 points, 4.7 rebounds), Morgan Keller (6.2 points, 4.3 rebounds), Sami Kay (2.7 points, 2.2 rebounds) and Allie Kemph 1.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists) are among the other top eight for Meadows.
Fremd features Ashley McConnell (18.5 points, 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals), Haley Gorecki (19.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3 assists), Bernie Williams (6.0 points, 5 rebounds), Marilyn Lortz (5.0 points), Catherine Ernst (3.0 points), Hannah LaBarge (3 points, 3 rebounds, 1.8 steals) and Erica Simios as its top seven.
First meeting: The teams met on Nov. 21 for the championship of the Turkey Thriller Tournament at Lake Zurich. The Mustangs won 69-64, their slimmest margin of victory in 24 wins. "I think we are both much better teams than then," said first year coach Ryan Kirkorsky, who replaced Todd Hatfield, the former Mustangs coach who got the program rolling five years ago. "Both teams have been tested throughout the season, both have played rigorous schedules and those experiences made both better teams."
Fremd coach Dave Yates was in total agreement. "I think we are a much better team than we were at that point," he said. "But I also think they are better, too. If I had to fix something from that first game, it would be to reduce how many close shots they got. A lot of that was Jackie Kemph going to the basket. And their bigs (Montanez and Keller) hurt us around the basket." Kirkorsky called the first matchup a great offensive display by both teams. "We'd like to to make some adjustments and make it a little tougher for them to score," he said. "First off, they have two of the best guards in the state (Gorecki and McConnell) and they are surrounded by very talented players."
Quick fact: Rolling Meadows' only losses were to defending state champions. Meadows lost 52-43 to Montini, the defending 3A champ and current No. 1 3A team, and 87-82 in overtime to Quincy Notre Dame, the defending Class 2A champ and currently No. 3 ranked in Class 3A. Both losses were on the opposition's home floors.
30-point club: Fremd's Ashley McConnell scored a career-high 38 points against Zion-Benton while Meadows' Jackie Kemph also struck for a career-high 38 points against Fenwick. Fremd's Haley Gorecki netted a career-high 30 against Hoffman Estates and Meadows' Alexis Glasgow popped in career best 31 points against Stevenson.
Coaches final thoughts: Dave Yates: "Obviously we have a bunch of kids who have gone through this process (fourth straight appearance in title game). I just hope the kids are excited about it. It's a pretty unique experience. You have the all-conference selections honored at half and you have the big crowd. That all makes it real special."
Ryan Kirkorsky: "You have to look at Fremd as kind of the standard for Mid-Suburban League girls basketball (16 appearances in the title game). It's obviously an exceptional program. But we see each game as a unique matchup. We've been in so many tough situations on the road that we are looking forward to being at home with a big supportive crowd on a Wednesday night."