Fremd's girls basketball team won its second championship in just over a week on Thursday night.
Eight days after an overtime nail-biter with Rolling Meadows to win the Mid-Suburban League title, the Vikings made things a little less stressful on their faithful while claiming their second regional championship in three years.
The No. 2-seeded Viking blasted out to a 6-0 lead in less than two minutes and never looked back in recording a 71-56 victory over No. 10 Prospect in the Class 4A Fremd regional championship game.
Next up for Fremd (25-7) is a date against Zion-Benton (19-9) in Monday's 7:30 p.m. sectional semifinal game at Libertyville. Coincidentally, it was Zion which defeated Fremd in the regional final a year ago.
"The girls were pretty disappointed last year," said Fremd coach Dave Yates, referring to that loss. "All the credit goes to Zion-Benton but our kids did not play their best game and they weren't happy. I think they learned from it, which helped us in this game."
Sophomore Haley Gorecki (25 points, 5 assists, 3 steals, 3 rebounds) and senior Ashley McConnell (23 points, 4 assists, 2 steals) helped carry the offensive scoring load for Fremd, which led 19-12 after one quarter and 38-18 at intermission.
"We really talked about having a good start," said McConnell, who was playing in her fourth straight regional title game and on her home court for the final time. "We knew Prospect was a tough team. Getting that early lead gave us confidence."
McConnell started the game with a beautiful long pass from behind the arc to Gorecki, who was dashing to the basket and easily made a layup for a 2-0 lead.
Prospect then made 2 turnovers and Fremd capitalized each time.
Senior Catherine Ernst (3 assists, 2 steals) dribbled her way through the lane for a layup and McConnell drove from the top of the circle for layup and 6-0 lead.
A 3-pointer by senior Michele Molini (19 points) and 17-footer by sophomore Catherine Sherwood (14 points) got Prospect to within 13-9 late in the first quarter.
A 3-pointer by sophomore Taylor Will (17 points) closed the deficit to 15-12 but Fremd pulled away with a 15-0 run that ended on a free throw by senior Marilyn Lortz (5 points) with 5:04 left in the second quarter.
The Vikes' run ended when junior Marissa Pacini's layup made it 30-14.
With Molini making 5 of her 6 3-pointers in the second half, the Knights got as close as 11 points with 4:57 left in the game.
The MSL champs, though, wouldn't let the Knights any closer.
"When we were in the half-court, our defense wasn't bad," said Prospect coach Ashley Graham, whose team finished 15-13 in her first season. "But our turnovers led to layups. I think they must have had 20 layups and didn't miss any. I thought every turnover we made, they not only got a possession, they got a layup."
Fremd junior Hannah LaBarge had 3 layups, one coming off a nifty curl-around pass from Gorecki. She also made 2 free throws, giving her 8 points, all in the final quarter.
Teammate Bernie Williams added 7 points and 3 steals while Brianna Lewis added 2 assists and 1 rebound.
"We have a number of kids who can contribute and Hannah did a nice job hitting layups, making free throws and playing defense," Yates said. "Prospect is good team and I thought they showed character fighting back there in the second half."
Knights junior guard Kristen Frasco had her 2 baskets in the third quarter.
Molini will move on to play at Wisconsin-Parkside
"It was a tremendous finish for Michele," said Graham, whose mother Karen Sandstead was Molini's physical education teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Mt. Prospect. "She is just an outstanding kid. She couldn't have played any harder.
"Obviously, the future is bright with Taylor (Will) and Catherine (Sherwood) being only sophomores. Taylor did everything for us -- bringing the ball up the floor, rebounding and scoring. She is such an offensive threat. Getting our feet wet in a regional championship game was a good experience."