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Eleventh-seeded Buffalo Grove was playing another superb postseason girls basketball game on Tuesday night.
The upstart Bison were keeping state-ranked and No. 2 seed Fremd in check right down to the final minutes of the Class 4A Barrington sectional semifinal game on Tuesday night.
It was a one-possession game with Fremd leading by 3 points under three minutes to go.
But that’s not exactly a good thing for opposing teams, as the Vikings finally shook free for a 47-38 triumph.
“This team has done a really good job at taking care of the basketball down the stretch and making free throws,” said Fremd coach Dave Yates. “They are real comfortable with that now.”
That’s exactly what everyone in the Barrington Field House saw, too, as the Mid-Suburban League champs converted 8 straight free throws in the final 2:48 to seal the deal.
Fremd (27-3) will meet No. 1 Rolling Meadows (26-4) for the regional crown on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Vikes junior Haley Gorecki (game-high 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists) had four of the final 8 free throws while Brianna Lewis (6 points, 3 assists) and Erica Simios (4 points, 3 rebounds) had the other two.
Sophomore Bryana Hopkins added 12 points and 3 rebounds for the Vikings, whose biggest lead in the first half was 21-15.
Bur the Bison climbed back to within 21-20 on a 17-footer and free throw by Maddy Callahan and 2 free throws by Courtney Meyer.
But Gorecki’s terrific dish-off pass set up Hannah LaBarge for a 16-footer from the baseline, which put the Vikes ahead 23-20 at intermission.
“We had our chances,” said Buffalo Grove coach Steve Kolodziej, whose team reeled off five straight wins before Tuesday to finish at 15-16. “Fremd is a phenomenal basketball team with players and a coaching staff that do an excellent job.
“They got a lot of offensive rebounds, which we figured might happen because of their height. And we didn’t shoot that well because of their defense.”
The Bison did add four more 3-pointers — two from Maddie Welter and one apiece from Bri Kolbus and Meyer — to finish with a single-season school record 209.
“Buffalo Grove has been playing great basketball,” Yates said. “They were frustrating us.”
Simios had a big recovery of a loose ball and then converted it into a layup that put Fremd ahead 29-27 late in the third period.
After starting near the top of the key, Julie Jambrone drove in for a driving bank shot that tied the game at 31-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
A rebound layup by freshman Grace Tworek gave Fremd the lead for good at 33-31.
“In the third quarter, I thought our intensity increased,” Yates said. “I thought we did an outstanding job getting second shots and finishing around the rim, which we didn’t do so well in the first half.”
Callahan and Sammy Stejskal led BG with 8 points apiece. Welter and Jambrone each had 6 followed by Kolbus and Meyer with 5. Senior Kim Herzog contributed her usual all-out hustle defense.
“I thought their kids played hard, aggressive and took it to us, especially in the first half,” Yates said.
Kolodziej could not have been more proud of the results in his second season as the Bison coach.
“It was a great run,” he said. “To be 10-15 and come together like we did, what more can you ask?”
The Bison won their first regional since 2008.
“We had all the girls sign their names on the back of that (regional) plaque,” Kolodziej said. “Twenty five years from now when they come back with their children, they’re going to be able to see what they accomplished. Nobody can take this away from them.
“When you have a group of players like this one buy in to everything we asked of them, that’s all any coach can ask. They recognized team goals over individuals roles.”