Fremd girls basketball coach Dave Yates always says he wants to play in big events like Saturday's Chitown Showdown to get "valuable big-game experience."
Not only did his Vikings get that at Chicago's Whitney Young High School, they also got one of their biggest wins in school history, coming back from a 9-point deficit with under 2:40 left to stun the defending Class 4A state champs.
Junior Haley Gorecki's layup off a steal by sophomore Bryana Hopkins with 28 seconds remaining lifted the Vikings to a 63-62 victory over nationally-ranked Marian Catholic, the top-ranked team in Class 4A.
Down 60-51, Gorecki (23 points, 4 steals) started the rally with a 3-point play.
"Haley was huge down the stretch," said Yates, whose team improved to 8-1. "She had multiple kids draped all over her the whole game and still managed to score some huge buckets down the stretch."
Freshman Grace Tworek followed with a steal, then an assist to Gorecki who hit a layup and completed another 3-point play to cut the deficit to 60-57.
The Spartans (6-2) went up 62-57 with 2 free throws before Hopkins hit a 5-foot runner to make it 62-59 with 46 seconds left.
Two free throws by sophomore Brianna Lewis cut the deficit to 62-61 with 35 seconds left.
Hopkins then made her big steal off the Vikings' press, and made a nice assist to Gorecki who hit the game-winning layup with 26 seconds remaining.
On their next possession, the Spartans had a shot blocked by Tworek and Hopkins grabbed the ball.
"We showed great grit by battling back," Yates said. "We went toe-to-toe with them all game long."
Lewis finished with 13 points for Fremd followed by Hopkins (10), Hannah LaBarge (6) and Erin Lenahan (5).
"I was very proud of our team battling back from being down by 9 points," Yates added. "We could have packed it in and called it a moral victory. We didn't. Instead we made some big time plays on both ends of the floor to win the game."
Teniya Page led Marian Catholic with 14 points.
"We battled the entire 32 minutes and it was a great victory for our kids" Yates added. "Brianna Lewis made the 2 big free throws to cut it to 1 point. And Hopkins and Tworek each had a huge steal that turned the game around."
The Vikings' only loss is to No. 2-ranked Rolling Meadows, also nationally-ranked.
"To come into this venue and beat a team like Marian Catholic in this setting was special," Yates said. "They have some big-time basketball players on their team and showed why they are so highly thought of."
Rolling Meadows 84, Milwaukee-Riverside 33: Senior Jackie Kemph scored a season-high 27 points and handed out 7 assists as the Mustangs improved to 9-1 with a victory at the Chitown Showdown.
Senior Jenny Vliet, who one night earlier reached 1,000 points for her career, added 18 more with 11 rebounds while classmate Alexis Glasgow (three 3-pointers and a season-high 10 rebounds) had 16 points.
Kemph. Vliet and Glasgow did not play in the final quarter.
Elizabeth Vasilogambros added 7 points for the Mustangs (9-1) while Katie Shewmon pulled down 5 rebounds.
Vliet, Glasgow and Allie Kemph each had 3 assists apiece while Glasgow made 3 steals.
"I think our kids were still angry about how we performed against Whitney Young (54-40 loss a week earlier)," said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "Having a week of practice, the kids were itching to get back on the court this weekend."
Conant 54, St. Charles East 47: Lexi Zades (13 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals), Nireet Dhillon (10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals), Sarah Mazurek (10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), Haley Anderson (8 points) and Jorie Wachal (8 points, 7 rebounds) were top scorers for the host Cougars (5-5) in the nonconference win.
New Trier 67, Buffalo Grove 47: Maddie Welter (8 points), Courtney Meyer (7) and Amanda Kowalski (7) were top scorers for the host Bison (6-5) in the nonconference game.
BG converted eight 3-pointers -- 2 apiece by Welter, Kim Herzog and Kowalski and one each by Maddy Callahan and Meyer.