Dave Yates chalked it up to some inexperience.
After watching his team let a 21-point lead nearly slip away, Fremd's girls basketball coach was somewhat pleased by the Vikings' 64-53 victory over South Elgin Monday afternoon in the opening round of the 5th annual Montini Catholic Christmas Tournament.
However, Yates admitted there were a few minor glitches along the way -- most of which began after the Vikings built a 51-30 lead with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
"I tried to convince our kids that whatever lead we got wasn't safe," said Yates.
Freshman center Mackie Kelleher's putback pulled the Storm (7-5) within 7 at 60-53 with 1:20 remaining but Brianna Lewis and Haley Gorecki each canned a pair of free throws down the stretch as the Vikings (10-1) earned their fifth consecutive victory and advanced to Thursday's quarterfinal clash against the host Broncos.
"I thought we let our guard down and got a little sloppy when we didn't need to get sloppy," said Yates. "We've got a lot of young kids out there. We've played beyond our years up until now. We're going to have these games once in a while -- there's learning to be done.
"We made enough plays to win it but they battled and fought hard," Yates said of the Storm.
Gorecki, a 6-foot junior guard, helped make sure the Vikings made enough plays as she poured in a game-high 30 points, 19 of which came in the first half when Fremd grabbed a 35-22 lead at the intermission.
In addition to her 10 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists, Gorecki canned four 3-pointers and converted all 10 of her free-throw attempts.
"They're calling a lot more fouls this year," said Gorecki. "Our coaches are telling us to shoot more free throws in practice. I'm doing better at the free-throw line than last year."
Bryana Hopkins added 12 points and 6 rebounds for the Vikings.
Despite battling foul trouble throughout the game, senior guard Savanah Uveges led the Storm with 12 points and 5 assists.
"We need her out there because of her leadership, her ability to play defense and her ability to create," South Elgin coach Tim Prendergast said of Uveges. "But I thought the bench stepped up tonight and did a good job."
Sophomore Bridgette Williams paced the bench brigade with 4 points and 10 rebounds.
"We didn't shoot the ball well in the first half," said Prendergast. "I thought we got a lot of good looks but we didn't get any second-chance shots in the first half, either. They did a good job executing and we didn't do a good job defensively in the first half so we put ourselves in a hole."
Kennede Miller added 9 points and 10 rebounds while Nadia Yang chipped in with 8 points for the Storm.
"We got it to a two-possession game and I was liking our chances at that point," said Prendergast, whose team will face Oak Park Thursday morning. "Moving forward, I have a feeling we can come in here and win three games in this tournament."