2016-'17 Season Coverage
updated: 3/7/2017 10:04 PM

Full speed ahead for Fremd against Grant

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  • Fremd players including Shaan Patel, front, react as the first quarter ends with a buzzer-beater during the Class 4A sectional semifinal against Grant at the Robert Morris University gymnasium in Arlington Heights on Tuesday.

      Fremd players including Shaan Patel, front, react as the first quarter ends with a buzzer-beater during the Class 4A sectional semifinal against Grant at the Robert Morris University gymnasium in Arlington Heights on Tuesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Grant's John Kerr attempts a shot between Fremd defenders Brian Dompke, left, and Kyle Sliwa during the Elk Grove sectional semifinal played at the Robert Morris University gymnasium in Arlington Heights on Tuesday.

      Grant's John Kerr attempts a shot between Fremd defenders Brian Dompke, left, and Kyle Sliwa during the Elk Grove sectional semifinal played at the Robert Morris University gymnasium in Arlington Heights on Tuesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Fremd's Shaan Patel shoots as Grant's Mike Huff defends during the Elk Grove sectional semifinal played at the Robert Morris University gymnasium in Arlington Heights on Tuesday.

      Fremd's Shaan Patel shoots as Grant's Mike Huff defends during the Elk Grove sectional semifinal played at the Robert Morris University gymnasium in Arlington Heights on Tuesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Fremd's Mark Kating reacts to the referee's whistle on a jump ball call during the Elk Grove sectional semifinal against Grant played at the Robert Morris University gymnasium in Arlington Heights on Tuesday.

      Fremd's Mark Kating reacts to the referee's whistle on a jump ball call during the Elk Grove sectional semifinal against Grant played at the Robert Morris University gymnasium in Arlington Heights on Tuesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Fremd's Kyle Sliwa draws contact from Grant's Ben Kusiak as Kyle Kusiak, left, helps on defense during Elk Grove sectional semifinal action.

      Fremd's Kyle Sliwa draws contact from Grant's Ben Kusiak as Kyle Kusiak, left, helps on defense during Elk Grove sectional semifinal action.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

Fremd's boys basketball team left little doubt Tuesday in the Class 4A sectional semifinal at Robert Morris University in Arlington Heights.

The Vikings scored the game's first 13 points and rolled from there, beating Grant 53-24.

Fremd (29-0) moves into Friday's sectional final, where the Vikings will meet the winner of Wednesday's game between Conant and Lake Park.

That 29th win sets a season record for Fremd, breaking the mark of 28 set just three years ago.

Fremd's Shaan Patel had been very vocal with his teammates in practice following the Vikings victory over Hersey last Friday in regional final play.

"I wanted to make sure we weren't taking any team lightly," Patel said. "I just wanted to make sure that things would not end."

Fremd took their co-captain's words to heart.

The Vikings were ferocious in the opening minutes. Four different players scored for Fremd as the Vikings blew the game open early.

"We talked all week about coming out ready to play," said Fremd coach Bob Widlowski, whose team's tenacious defense forced Grant to miss its first 7 shots and turn the ball over once. "We really followed through. Patel rally set the the tone in practice and obviously we're very pleased by the way we came out."

Fremd also came strong last Friday in their win against Hersey. But the Vikings coasted a bit in that game, allowing Hersey to challenge. There was none of that on Tuesday.

"We wanted to make sure that would not happen again," said Kyle Sliwa, who finished with a game-high 16 points, including a pair of 3s. "We always say that want to step on their throat when we have a lead like this. It is kind of vulgar, but we didn't want to let them back in it."

Grant, which converted just 6 field goals in the game, got its first bucket with 2:37 left in the first quarter. Fremd closed out the half with a 17-6 run to lead 30-8 at the break.

The Vikings then began to milk the clock, with Luke Schoffstall running a ball-control offense that kept Grant chasing Fremd. And when the Bulldogs would try to double a Fremd player with the ball, the Vikings frequently escaped and got an uncontested layup.

"It all starts with our defense," said Schoffstall, who finished with 15 points. "We will try to push it, but if it is not open, we will swing it around and reverse, reverse until we find the open guy."

Widlowski loved the way his players executed.

"We are really pleased," Widlowski said. "The execution was perfect. Our guys followed the scouting report."

Fremd did such a great job on the Bulldogs that three of their starters failed to score. Grant shot just 17 percent (6-of-36) for the game.

"I thought we converted the ball well offensively," Widlowski said. "Defensively I thought we were real solid and we limited their opportunity to come back in the contest."

Fremd's inside men of Patel, Brian Dompke, Mark Kating and Austin Schwantz did a terrific job of guarding Grant senior standout forward John Kerr. The quartet took turns keeping Kerr away from the basket, allowing him to finish with 11 hard-earned points, with most of those coming in the closing minutes.

"He would get position early," said Patel, who finished with 9 rebounds. "But we tried to avoid that and keep him from rebounding and scoring. He is a great player."

Grant (21-9) was making its first sectional appearance since 1989. The Bulldogs lost just 2 of their last 16 games -- both to Fremd, with a 55-43 decision on Jan. 28 and Tuesday's night's meeting.

"This happens when you play a team like Fremd," Grant coach Wayne Bosworth said. "They played extremely well and outplayed us in every aspect of the game."

Bosworth was pleased with his team's success this season. The Bulldogs won their most games since 1987 and captured the Northern Lake County Conference title.

"I told these seniors they have a lot to be proud of, not to hang their heads," Bosworth said. "They have done a ton for this program. We knew when they were sophomores they would be something special -- and they were."

Both teams, in classy moves by their coaches, emptied their benches in the closing moments, to get their players a chance to compete.

Fremd's Brock Rubin, who scored 5 points when the teams met in January on Fremd's senior night, took full advantage of this opportunity by scoring 4 points in the final two minutes.

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