Garrett Groot scored just 1 point in top-ranked Fremd's 49-46 overtime victory at No. 11 Huntley Monday night, but his defense in the clutch propelled the Vikings to their 21st victory without a loss.
The rescheduled nonconference game was tied 43-43 with 57 seconds left in regulation when the 5-foot-9 senior guard hounded Huntley (15-5) into a perimeter turnover that kept the Red Raiders from shooting for the lead.
The contest was still knotted at 43 with 1:45 left in overtime when Groot made a perimeter steal and was immediately fouled. He split 2 free throws for his only point of the night and Fremd never trailed again.
Senior Riley Glassmann sank 5 of 6 free throws in the final 1:09 and the Vikings survived a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds as the attempt by Huntley leading scorer Riley Wicks (13 points) did not fall.
"We pride ourselves on defense and that's what has gotten us to 21-0," Groot said. "We know if we don't play defense, we're not going to win games because we're not the best scorers in the league. We pride ourselves on getting to every loose ball, getting pass deflections. Those are the hustle plays we need."
Fremd shot 33 percent from the field (15 of 45), but the Vikings won the rebounding battle 29-19 and scored 14 second-chance points. As importantly, they forced the Red Raiders into 4 turnovers in the game's final five minutes, matching Huntley's total for the previous 31 minutes.
"Those hurt us quite a bit," Huntley coach Marty Manning said of the late miscues. "I think (the loss) was a combination of some careless turnovers, some careless passes, and missing some free throws and layups."
Huntley shot 13 of 21 from the free-throw line.
It was a typically balanced effort from Fremd offensively. Glassman and 6-6 senior Ben Carlson (7 rebounds) led the Vikings with 9 points apiece, senior guard Jalon Roundy scored 8 points off the bench and senior Matt Ochoa and junior Xavier Williams combined for 13 rebounds while scoring 7 points each. Senior Thomas Cordell contributed 6 rebounds.
Ochoa guarded 6-foot-8 Huntley senior Amanze Egekeze, who was surrounded in the paint whenever he touched the ball. Egekeze was limited to 11 points and 3 rebounds.
"It was tough. He's good," Ochoa said. "I always like playing the best. We knew he could shoot the 3 and we knew he was pretty athletic. Basically, I wanted to keep him in front of me and hope he missed some shots."
Egekeze shot 3 of 8 from the floor, including a 3-pointer. In fact, Huntley made 7 of its 8 attempts from 3-point range, but the Red Raiders saw their 10-game winning streak snapped, in part, because they shot 6 of 28 from 2-point range.
"It was definitely a lot different than anything we've seen," Egekeze said of Fremd's defense. "They were very physical. You had to literally work for every single cut. They were focusing a lot on me and I was proud of the way our guys responded. They knocked down some shots and put some pressure on them early."
Huntley jumped to a 14-2 lead on the strength of 3-pointers from Zach Gorney and Blake Jacobs and a pair of threes from Wicks. However, Fremd responded with a 19-4 run. The Vikings outscored the Red Raiders 22-7 in the second quarter to take a 26-21 halftime lead.
The teams traded leads eight times in the second half. The Vikings had a chance to win the game in regulation following the late turnover forced by Groot, but Glassmann's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was off target.
The hard-fought victory was the third such game in four nights for the battle-tested Vikings, who defeated rival Palatine on Friday and survived a 54-51 overtime win at Evanston on Saturday.
"We went an hour east and an hour west, but they battled out there," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said of road wins at Evanston and Huntley. "They played very hard. First and foremost, we talk about effort. They gave a very good effort all three nights and we're pretty pleased with that."