What: Class 4A Liberyville sectional championship
Where: Libertyville High School
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Who: No. 1 Rolling Meadows (27-3) vs. No. 2 Fremd (26-7)
How they advanced: Rolling Meadows d. Hersey 53-37 to win the Mundelein regional and defeated Stevenson 58-47 in the sectional semifinal; Fremd d. Prospect 71-56 to win the Fremd regional and Zion-Benton 55-54 in the sectional semifinal.
At stake: A berth in Monday's Niles West (Skokie) supersectional, 7:30 p.m. vs the winner of the Loyola sectional (Evanston vs. Maine South)
The history: Rolling Meadows is making its first appearance in the Sweet 16 and its second in a sectional final. Its only other sectional appearance was in 1991 under coach Pat McConnell. Fremd is appearing in its 18th sectional and won its last in 2001 under coach Carol Plodzien. The Vikings are in the Sweet 16 for the third time in school history (the others were 1990 and 1977).
The players: Junior Alexis Glasgow (17.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 steals) recently committed to Northwestern while classmates Jackie Kemph (20.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.5 steals) and Jenny Vliet (10.0 pts, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 2 blocked shots) are also Division I prospects. 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 senior Ashley McConnell (19.1 points, 3.7 rebounds), 3.1 assists, 1.9 steals), sophomore Haley Gorecki (18.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.2 steals), senior Bernie Williams (6.0 points, 5 rebounds), senior Marilyn Lortz (5.0 points), senior Catherine Ernst (3.0 points), freshman Brianna Lewis and junior Hannah LaBarge as its top seven. Junior Erica Simios has been sidelined for the season due to mononucleosis.
Previous meetings: Thursday's game marks the fourth straight time Meadows and Fremd will meet for some kind of a championship.
The first matchup dates back to last year's MSL title game. Meadows won its first MSL crown in school history with a 52-51 over time victory when Alexis Glasgow hit a last-second shot.
When the teams met on Nov. 21 of this season, it was for the championship of the Turkey Thriller Tournament at Lake Zurich. The Mustangs won 69-64, their slimmest margin of victory in 27 wins.
The third time was another MSL title game. This time, it was Fremd winning on a last-second 3-pointer by Brianna Lewis in overtime for a 66-63 victory 15 days ago.
This time, the teams are squaring off for a sectional championship.
Quick fact: Fremd is the only Class 4A team to defeat Rolling Meadows this season. The Mustangs other 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.
Offensive leaders: Four players in the game have scored 30 or more points: Fremd's Ashley McConnell (career-high 38 points against Zion-Benton), Meadows' Jackie Kemph (career-high 38 points against Fenwick), Fremd's Haley Gorecki (career-high 30 against Hoffman Estates) and Meadows' Alexis Glasgow (career-best 31 against Stevenson).
Fremd coach Dave Yates: "I think both of us (Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky) wish we could have done some things differently in our last game against each other (Fremd's 66-63 OT win). Obviously, a couple of things come to mind. I thought we gave them too many open looks in the first half and they got up 20-8. Our goal this time will be not to dig ourselves a hole, which we did a couple of times in that game. But that's a credit to Rolling Meadows. They made a lot of that happen. Winning that game has to help some. Before that, we had lost two games to them. But they were very close. Hopefully knowing we can play with them and winning that game will help. Because, to be honest, not many teams in the state can play with them. They've had a great season."
Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky: "I watched the tape from the last game and saw the things they really like to do at this point of the season -- and we have to make some adjustments. Hopefully, you are playing your best when the ball is tipped off. Our kids were upset losing that last game (to Fremd). But I think winning the sectional championship is an entirely different thing. All we wanted to do is learn from that last game and get better for this game. We felt we had opportunities to put that game away. It was really the little things, like not giving up the second rebound, remaining disciplined on defense and communicating with teammates that we need to do. I expect both teams will have a lot of fan support. Fremd is playing extremely well. All of their kids understand their roles."
-- John Leusch