With the graduation of four starting seniors, defending Mid-Suburban League girls basketball champion Fremd had a lot of new faces on the floor when it opened its season on Monday night.
But there was nothing new about the result for the Vikings.
Coming off a 28-win season, the Vikings got their first triumph for the 2013-14 campaign with a 63-43 victory over host Elk Grove in the Lake Zurich Turkey Thriller opener.
Junior Haley Gorecki, who has been offered scholarships by numerous D-I programs including powerhouse Connecticut, and senior backcourt partner Hannah LaBarge each hit 3-pointers in the game's first minute.
A driving layup by Gorecki made it 8-0 less than two minutes into the game and the Vikings never looked back against a young Elk Grove team that competed hard throughout.
"We got the win but we are definitely not where we want to be," said Gorecki, who tossed home a game-high 22 points with 5 assists and 1 rebound. "We definitely have a lot of things to work on and we'll continue to do that in practice."
Elk Grove junior center Courtney Lindfors made a layup with 6:15 left in the first quarter, and moments later freshman guard Jenny Banak hit a 17-footer for her first varsity points to cut the lead in half at 8-4.
But the Vikes went on a 10-0 run with two more baskets from Gorecki, one apiece from sophomore Bryana Hopkins and LaBarge and 2 free throws by 6-foot-2 sophomore Julia Wacker for an 18-4 lead.
The 6-2 Hopkins, wearing a Fremd uniform for the first time after transferring from Barrington, finished with 14 points, 4 steals and 2 rebounds.
"She did a nice job," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "There had to be some nerves but she did a nice job going to the basket and attacking the rim."
"It was a really a team effort," said the 5-11 LaBarge, who also had 14 points with 2 assists and 2 steals. "Everyone contributed. Even though they were concentrating their defense on Haley, a lot of people stepped up."
Among the new faces stepping up was 6-foot-2 freshman Grace Tworek (4 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 3 assists and 2 steals).
"Grace (Tworek) is going to be a good player," Gorecki said. "Bryana (Hopkins) stepped up for us, too. We have more height this season so that will help."
Lindfors helped Elk Grove on the scoreboard with 12 points followed by Solorio (11) and Taylor Brown (10).
Solorio's 3-pointer late in the first half got the Grens to within 10 points (27-17) but Fremd went on a 15-1 run to put the game out of reach.
"It's our first game, we were a step slow at the start," said Solorio, also a volleyball and soccer player. "We have a lot of new players so we are learning to adjust and the older players are trying to be leaders. We will take it game by game and see what happens."
Sophomore Brianna Lewis, who had the game-winning buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime to give Fremd its MSL title at Rolling Meadows last season, contributed to the offense with 4 assists and 4 points in the fourth quarter.
"They (Fremd) move the ball around a lot," Solorio said. "We tried to use a zone but they found the openings. They're good shooters, too, and we couldn't get out on them fast enough."
Grens coach Kathie Swanson said everything is a learning process for her team.
"I can't fault the effort," she said. "We just have a lot to learn.
"We want to play against quality teams like this. Hopefully we learn from this game and as the season goes along."
Yates had a lot of players getting their first varsity minutes, too.
"I think we have the potential to be a real strong team," he said. "I know we have multiple scoring threats beyond Haley who can get the job done. A lot of times you just want to get through your first game and move on."