Buffalo Grove's girls basketball team was providing Mid-Suburban League champion Fremd a formidable battle throughout the first half Tuesday night.
The Bison trailed 19-15 when Fremd sophomore Haley Gorecki drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner just before the halftime buzzer sounded.
Despite the way the Bison were competing, Gorecki's long range bucket ended up triggering a 19-5 run by the Vikings.
Fremd outscored Buffalo Grove 16-5 in the third quarter and posted a 55-37 victory in the semifinals of the Vikings' Class 4A regional.
The No. 2 seeded Vikings (24-7) advanced to Thursday's championship against No. 10 Prospect (15-12) at 7:30 p.m.
"That's what we needed," said Fremd coach Dave Yates of Gorecki's 3-pointer to close out the first half. "It was huge. And Ashley McConnell's 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first quarter was big, too (breaking a 6-6 tie)."
McConnell (2 assists, 2 rebounds) finished with game-high 22 points.
The Mid-Suburban West Player of the Year also capped the Vikes' big third quarter with a step-back buzzer beating 3-pointer.
Gorecki (6 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals) added 10 points.
"I thought that kind of took the wind out of our sails," said Bison coach Steve Kolodziej of Gorecki's 3-pointer. "The girls were believing and playing hard. Then we were outscored 16-5 in the third quarter and that hurt."
Fremd senior Catherine Ernst, playing her penultimate varsity game in the Vikings' gymnasium, tossed home a career-high 10 points.
"My teammates' passes were phenomenal," she said. "You can always count on them to look for the open person.
"Mr. (Dave) Townsend (Fremd assistant coach) told me I've got to start making my layups so I wasn't going to miss this game."
Koldziej is going to miss his seniors.
"This is a start," he said. "I'm really proud of my seniors (Amanda Salzman, Mary Zawlocki, Alyssa Mills and Bailey North). I asked them last March when I got the job to be good leaders.
"I wanted them to understand this is a process and they did an exemplary job of being leaders and communicating the expectations we had. They did a great job giving us something to build on and the future looks bright. The seniors showed what it takes."
Sophomore Julie Jambrone hit four 3-pointers (two in the second quarter) and led the Bison (10-18) with 14 points while North and Madeline Callahan each chipped in 6.
Bernie Williams (3 assists, 3 steals) scored 7 points for Fremd, including a 3-point play which gave the Vikes the lead for good at 17-13 with 3:30 left in the first half.
Hannah LaBarge tossed in 4 points and Marilyn's Lortz' bucket off an assist from Gorecki helped spark the big third-quarter run. Freshman Brianna Lewis also had 3 key assists.
"We really came to play defensively in the second half," Yates said. "Collectively the girls did a real nice job. We had a lot of kids working hard in the right spots doing the things we wanted to do."