Class 4A Lake Zurich sectional championship
No. 2 Fremd Vikings (28-0) vs. No. 1 Stevenson Patriots (29-1)When: 7 p.m., tonight
Where: Lake Zurich High School
Crowd control: Tuesday's sectional semifinal between Stevenson and St. Viator was a sellout at 2,700 fans. Fans are encouraged to arrive at the Lake Zurich fieldhouse early to secure a seat for the championship game.
Fremd's road to the sectional championship: At the Hersey regional, Fremd defeated Hersey, 64-42 and Lake Zurich, 58-44. In the Lake Zurich sectional semifinal on Wednesday, Fremd defeated Highland Park, 47-26.
Stevenson's road to the sectional championship: At the McHenry regional, Stevenson defeated McHenry, 65-38 and Warren, 79-59. In the Lake Zurich sectional semifinal on Tuesday, Stevenson defeated St. Viator, 84-73.
Fremd's tournament history: Fremd's best finish was a fourth-place showing in the state finals in the 1992-93 season.
Stevenson's tournament history: Stevenson has been downstate twice in the last seven years. The Patriots placed fourth in 2006-07 and finished as the state runner-up last season.
Coaches: Bob Widlowski, Fremd; Pat Ambrose, Stevenson
Outlook: It should be a contrast in styles as defensive-oriented Fremd will try to lock down the up-tempo Patriots. Fremd is coming off a sectional semifinal game against Highland Park in which it allowed just 26 points. Meanwhile, Stevenson is averaging about 70 points and has upped that in the tournament to 76 per game, including an 84 point outburst on Tuesday against St. Viator. "Fremd isn't a super high-scoring team, but they're also a very good defensive team," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "They are fundamental and they play a really good man-to-man and they're patient. I think we can hang in a half-court game, we can still be effective. But would we be more effective if we sped it up? Yeah." … The Patriots will also look to stretch the Fremd defense with their red-hot 3-point shooting. They rolled up a school-record 13 3-pointers in Tuesday's victory over St. Viator. Star guard Jalen Brunson, who is averaging a team-best 25 points per game, hit 6-of-10 3-point field goal attempts in that game. "In big games, Jalen doesn't shy away," Ambrose said of Brunson, who was recently invited to try out for the U.S. Olympic developmental team this summer. Matt Johnson, Connor Cashaw and Parker Nichols are also big threats from 3-point range for Stevenson. …One area that could cause Stevenson trouble is Fremd's size. The Patriots' tallest player in the regular rotation is Cashaw, who is 6-foot-4. Fremd has been dominating the paint this season with the likes of 6-foot-6 Ben Carlson, 6-foot-6 Matt Ochoa and 6-foot-5 Riley Glassmann. Said Carlson, who had 13 points and 17 rebounds against Highland Park: "We're really excited to play (Stevenson). It's what we've been working toward all season. We've been like, ‘We got to beat Stevenson.' But we've had to take it one game at a time. Now we're finally here. We're ready to go."
Numbers game: In a record-setting season, Stevenson could pick up yet another record Friday night. A win against Fremd would give the Patriots their 30th win of the season. That would be a school record.
Up next: Friday's winner at Lake Zurich advances to Tuesday's Northern Illinois University supersectional game against the winner of the Elgin sectional championship between Rockford Auburn and South Elgin. Tip-off at NIU is at 8 p.m.
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw