In the midst of taking Libertyville's best shot and many precise shots from Claire Keefe in the first half, Fremd's girls basketball team never panicked.
Which wasn't surprising considering the Vikings, after all, have finished second in the state in Class 4A the last two years.
Leading by just two points at halftime against a sixth-seeded Libertyville team playing on its home court and in a sectional game for the first time since 2011, No. 2 Fremd pulled away in the second half. The Vikings led by as many as 22 points late in the game and won 58-40 in Monday night's second semifinal.
"We just talked to our kids about calming down a little bit," Fremd coach Dave Yates said. "It was loud."
Twins Midori and Hayley Williams led Fremd with 18 and 16 points, respectively. The sisters shot a combined 12 of 19 from the floor with six 3-pointers, four by Midori. Harvard-bound Grace Tworek had 7 points and 13 rebounds for the Vikings, who also got 7 points from freshman Emily Klaczek.
"It's really easy when teams double-team Grace," said Hayley Williams, who missed just 1 of 7 shots. "We just kick it out and shoot. We're so versatile."
Fremd (26-6) will play top-seeded Hersey (27-3) in Thursday's 7 p.m. Class 4A sectional final. It'll be a rematch of the Mid-Suburban League championship game two weeks ago, when Hersey rallied from a 9-point deficit in the second half to pull out a 36-33 win.
"I'm not going to lie to you," Yates said. "Our kids were hoping that we would get another chance to play them. We got it. We're excited to play them again."
Keefe did her best to try to prevent the rematch, leading Libertyville (18-12) with a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Playing against her good friend Tworek and Yates, her Midwest Elite AAU coach, Keefe put together the best half of basketball in her four-year varsity career. The DePauw-bound forward had 17 of Libertyville's 20 points at halftime and was the main reason why the Wildcats trailed by only two.
"I wish she would have played like that all the time when I coached her in AAU," Yates joked. "She had a great, great half."
Keefe even drained a 3-pointer in the first half. She hit a second 3 (the final field goal of her career) late in the game. She's not a 3-point shooter, mind you.
"I normally don't shoot 3s, but I was feeling it this game," said Keefe, who shot 10 of 12 from the floor, including 7 of 8 in the first half.
Bradley-bound Missy Adrian, Fremd's shutdown defender, sat a good part of the first half with 2 fouls, putting the Vikings in matchups they didn't want to be in, Yates said. Adrian (6 points, 5 rebounds) started the second half and helped Fremd get back to playing its type of ball at both ends of the court.
"Credit Claire. She made all those shots (in the first half)," Yates said of Keefe. "To me, (getting Adrian back) was the difference in the second half."
Klaczek opened the second half with a 3-pointer and Adrian followed with a layup. A Libertyville timeout couldn't help the Wildcats stop the Vikings' momentum, as Klaczek had a steal and layup and Hayley Williams converted a three-point play to make it 32-20 with 4:33 left in the third.
"We tried to go for more steals, be more aggressive on offense and shut down their big player (Keefe)," Hayley Williams said. "She's very good."
Keefe's short jumper beat the third-quarter buzzer to pull the Wildcats within 39-27. But Fremd opened the fourth with a 10-2 run that included a pair of 3s by Midori Williams.
No other Libertyville player finished with more than 4 points. But at game's end, the Wildcats were smiling, not crying.
"All my friends are here. My family's here," Keefe said. "I had a great time."