2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/7/2017 11:12 PM

MSL's spotlight finds Fremd, Hersey ready for the show

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  • Claire Gritt

    Claire Gritt

  • Grace Tworek

    Grace Tworek


There wasn't exactly a lot of drama when it came to Hersey and Fremd's girls basketball teams winning their respective Mid-Suburban League divisions with 10-0 records.

The state-ranked Huskies (23-3) defeated East rivals by an average of 24.7 points per game while the Vikings (23-5) topped their West competition by an average margin of 26.5.

But drama could be on the menu Wednesday night when the MSL serves its main course -- the 44th title game, which will tip off at 7:30 p.m. in Hersey's Carter Gymnasium.

Each team features future Division I seniors -- Denver-bound Claire Gritt for Hersey and Fremd's Grace Tworek (Harvard) and Missy Adrian (Bradley).

The Vikings are making an unprecedented eighth straight appearance in the showcase event and have won the last four defeating Rolling Meadows twice (2013 and 2014), Prospect (2015) and Buffalo Grove (2016).

"I don't think it ever gets old," said Fremd coach Dave Yates (245-89 in 11 seasons). "Our conference does it right and I think it has always been a great atmosphere. I love the fact that we get to play a really good team in a sectional-like setting."

Hersey and Fremd also happen to be the No. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively, in the Libertyville Class 4A sectional.

"Dave has created quite a program," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley (401-169 in 19 seasons). "From top to bottom, freshman B to varsity, they have dominated. We will have to give it our all to break their streak (four straight crowns)."

Yates has the same respect for Hersey which won the MSL crown under Fendley in 2005 and lost to Fremd in 2011.

"Mary does a great job with this group and we definitely come into this game the underdog," Yates said. "But this isn't the first time we have entered a game like this as the underdog. I know our kids are excited to play them."

It should be exciting from the get-go as each team has 3-point shooting artists and players who get their points inside.

Tworek gets points everywhere, averaging 17 ppg, 10 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

The other Vikings starters are senior Missy Adrian (7 ppg, 4 rebounds, 2.5 assists), senior Midori Williams (9 ppg, 3.5 rebounds, 2 assists), senior Hayley Williams (7 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists) and freshman Emily Klaczek (7 ppg, 3 rebounds, 2 assists).

The remainder of Vikings' roster includes senior Natalie Connors, junior Melissa Stapleton, senior Anna LaValle, junior Colleen Kennedy, junior Danielle Lovelace, junior Alyssa Honickel, sophomore Angie Zara, junior Julia Smiarowski and freshman Olivia Hill.

No current Viking has lost in this game. The Vikings are trying to beocme the first team to win five straight MSL crowns. Carol Plodzien's Fremd team also won four straight from 1974 to 1977.

Hersey is led by senior Claire Gritt (18. ppg, 7.2 rebounds, 95 steals, 74 assists), senior Kelly Weyhrich (10 ppg, 3.8 rebounds, 143 assists, 59 steals), senior Gina Miklasz (10.1 ppg, 3.8 rebounds, 93 assists, 57 steals), senior Carly Cooper (39 assists, 34 steals, 1.6 rebounds) and junior Erin McGrath (5.7 ppg, 4.4 rebounds, 25 assists, 25 steals, 29 blocks).

"I have been very impressed with Hersey all season," Yates said. "They have it all -- experience, skilled players, great defense and they play really well together."

Off the bench, junior Maesyn Benjamin has averaged 3.5 ppg, 3.4 rebounds with 25 assists, 13 steals and 6 blocked shots.

Junior Katie McGrath has 17 assists, 8 steals and 46 rebounds.

Completing the Huskies' roster are senior Andrea Cannon, freshman Sydney Hemenway, junior Sarah McGrath, senior Kendall Palmer, junior Claire Rogowski, senior Carly Silva and junior Haley Skiko.

"Their team reminds me of our team the previous couple of years.," Yates said. "They have player after player who has three to four years of varsity experience under their belt."

Hersey won MSL crowns in 1979, 1987, 1994 and 2005 and only lost in the 2011 game to Fremd.

Yates is thrilled to have the opportunity to meet a state-ranked team like Hersey.

"Nothing but good can from this, win or lose," he said. "We have a lot of new faces this year so I don't think the "experience" factor really comes into play as much as it has the last few years."

Getting to the title game is the first goal Yates discusses with his players every year.

"I am very pleased that this group has achieved one of its goals," he added "We graduated a bunch of really good players (including Division I recruits Bryana Hopkins and Brianna Lewis) but I think this (10-0 record and in this game again) shows you how much depth we had the last few years. I think we have really made some improvements in January and have played pretty well of late."

Fendley is enjoying the winningest senior class (97 wins) in school history, boys or girls. Gritt and Weyhrich have been starters since their freshmen years.

"I am so happy for this group, especially the seniors, for reaching this goal," Fendley said. "They are so smart, kind and hardworking. They have shown their toughness and resilience over the past year. I love coaching them and just feel lucky to be a part of it."

Now they get their first chance at winning a MSL crown.

"I think our girls are at a disadvantage without title game experience to draw on, and facing a team like Fremd that is playing in its eighth consecutive," Fendley said. "However, we take a lot of pride in defending our home court and playing hard whenever we put on the uniform."

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