Rolling Meadows' girls basketball team was already off to a fine start with a 4-2 record heading into Tuesday night's Mid-Suburban League crossover.
But if the Mustangs needed any more of a confidence boost for the upcoming season, they sure got it.
Going up against the team that finished second in the Class 4A state tourney the last two years, the Mustangs defeated Fremd for the first time since the 2014 sectional final at Barrington High School.
Senior Kyra Spiwak scored 11 of her game-high 14 points in the second half and classmate Kelsey Nallon (9 points) delivered three big 3-point baskets as Meadows got past the four-time defending MSL champs 42-37.
Trailing 20-15 at intermission, Nallon gave the Mustangs (5-2) a big boost by hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the third quarter.
Two minutes later, Spiwak made a big drive through the lane for a layup that gave the hosts their first lead (26-25) since 3-2.
Fremd (4-2) held strong and led 29-28 after three quarters but Meadows gained command for good early in the fourth quarter.
Senior Morgan Campagna (6 points) hit a free throw for a 30-29 advantage followed by a perfectly executed fast break off classmate Katherine Nolan's rebound.
The possession finished with Spiwak passing off to her sister Melissa (7 points) for a layup and 32-29 cushion. Campagna followed with a big steal and coast to coast layup for a 34-29 lead.
After another Fremd turnover, Nolan fired a nifty bounce pass inside to Kyra Spiwak, who converted the layup despite being fouled to extend the lead to 36-29 with 3:55 left in the game.
"We hadn't beaten Fremd for so long," Nallon said. "This is like a turning point for our season. We think we're definitely going to do great things and I'm excited to see what will happened."
After a 3-pointer by Midori Williams (7 points), Kyra Spiwak made a big bank shot in the lane and Alexa Davis hit a free throw with 57.5 seconds left to give Meadows its biggest lead of the game at 40-32.
A 3-pointer by Missy Adrian (10 points) and William's layup got Fremd to within 41-37 with 8.2 seconds left before Meadows iced it on Krya Spiwak's free throw with 4.8 seconds.
"I thought we outplayed them in the first half," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "And they outplayed us in the second half."
A 3-pointer by senior Grace Tworek (13 points, 8 rebounds) gave Fremd a 20-11 lead with under a minute to play in the first half but Melissa Spiwak's driving 10-foot bank shot and Campagna's bank shot off a pass from Kyra Spiwak made it 20-15 at intermission.
"Those last couple of minutes of the first half hurt us," Yates said.
"Those last two minutes of the first half changed out mental mindset and helped lead us into the second half," said Nallon, who hit the big 3-pointers to start the third quarter said. "Once I saw those gaps, I was saying to myself 'go for it' because I knew we need some points."
Junior Caili Hosler also had a big 3-pointer for Meadows in the first quarter while Tworek hit one in the second quarter.
"We made some shots to make it interesting at the end," Yates said. "But we needed to make them with five minutes left, not two minutes."
No shots were bigger than Nallon's which got the Mustangs right back into the game to start the second half.
"Kelsey had a great game in Wisconsin (last Saturday against Mukwonago, Wis.)," said Mustangs coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "The confidence from that carried over to this game."
Kyra Spwiak showed her confidence with big buckets in the second half.
"Kyra never shies away from a big moment and we want the ball in her hands down the stretch," Kirkorsky added "We need different kids to step up every game and Alexa Davis (sophomore guard) gave us huge minutes.
"I thought the key was being good defensively all night and our shot selection was better in the second half."
The Mustangs, who were the Class 4A state runner-up the previous years before Fremd, won 38 games the last two seasons.
"But we really hadn't broke through against a good team like tonight," Kirkorsky said.
"This a great win for the program," Nallon said. "I thought it was our passion and teamwork. We all played for each other and that's what won the game for us."