PEORIA -- Fremd nearly shot its way to a third-place trophy Saturday.
The Vikings, who'd trailed by as many as 10 points, made a furious rally only to fall short 70-66 to Bolingbrook in the third-place game of the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament at Carver Arena in Peoria.
Fremd (31-2), which lost its semifinal on Friday to Whitney Young, demonstrated again on Saturday that it was was of the elite teams in the state.
Young went on to win the state title by beating Simeon 60-50 in overtime, showing how close Fremd really was to finishing on top.
"They were very disappointed that they lost on Friday," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "They bounced back and gave it a tremendous effort tonight. They should hold their heads up high when they get their fourth-place medals."
Fremd matched the finish of the school's 1993 team which also finished fourth in the state. This Vikings squad did set the standard in one regard, and not only for Fremd but for other area teams as well with 31 victories.
And with their fourth-place trophy, the Vikings matched the Fremd girls basketball team, which had the same state finish a couple of weeks ago.
"I would like to thank all of our seniors," Widlowski said. "They have represented our school in fantastic fashion."
Fremd had trouble at times with Bolingbrook's speed in the first half, which allowed the Raiders to get to the basket for easy buckets. Bolingbrook shot 57 percent (16-of-28) and grabbed a 37-30 lead.
"They are very athletic," Widlowski said. "We just needed to keep battling."
The game was tied at 12 with 2:10 left in the first quarter when things went a bit South for the Vikings. Bolingbrook scored the next 6 points on its way to a 12-3 run and a 24-15 Fremd deficit.
With Sliwa, Ryan Martin and Shaan Patel leading the way, Fremd was able to get within 30-27 on a pair of free throws by Luke Schoffstall with 2:30 left in the half.
Bolingbrook went on a 7-1 run before Patel's basket closed out the half with Vikings trailing by 7.
The Raiders led 46-36 with 5:51 left in the third quarter, but Fremd found a way to hang in there. The Vikings got the lead down to 50-47 on a 3 by Martin with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
Again, Bolingbrook answered, this time running off 6 unanswered points. The Raiders had a chance to go up by 11, but missed a pair of free throws yet still led 56-47 with 7:01 to play.
Especially in the playoffs, this has been a Fremd team that seems to thrive on adversity.
"It is a credit to these guys here," Widlowski said. "They never quit or given up. They stayed focused and gave us a chance to win."
And a funny thing about hot shooting -- it can be very contagious. Not only did Sliwa knock down 3s, but Patel and Martin did as well and suddenly it was 60-56 with 5:44 to play on a 3 by Sliwa.
"I definitely played a better game today," said Sliwa, who finished with 25 points and hit seven 3s. "The guys picked me up today. I was very emotional after our loss. They stuck by my side and told me to keep shooting the ball."
Fremd was 12-for-23 outside the arc, including 7-for-14 from Sliwa.
"I thought we shared the ball well," Widlowski said. "We went inside out and knocked down some big shots."
Schoffstall drilled a 3 and Martin scored on a sweet pass from Brian Dompke to make it 63-61 Bolingbrook. Sliwa put the Vikes over the top with another 3 as Fremd led 64-63 with 2:38 to play.
"I thought Kyle had a fantastic game today," Widlowski said. "We had a lot of contributors and it was good effort for them to go out on."
After a Bolingbrook miss, Fremd salted away over a minute on the clock. The Vikings failed to capitalize on the opportunity when they missed a free throw with a minute to play.
Bolingbrook added a pair of free throws with 45.1 seconds left to forge ahead 65-64.
Fremd had a solid chance to get the lead back when Dompke rebounded a missed free throw with 14 seconds left. However, Dompke was called for a questionable lane violation.
With new life, Bolingbrook converted both free throws to go up 67-64. Schoffstall later made a pair of free throws, bringing the Vikings within 1 at 67-66. But Bolingbrook hit its own free throws to close out the game.
"They won 30 games for a reason," Bolingbrook coach Robert Brost said. "The way they play is tough to defend.
"Yesterday (Friday), we didn't make the plays toward the end in the fourth quarter but today we did."
Dompke, who had 6 points, said playing hard is the only thing he and teammates know how to do.
"We have never stopped play hard," Dompke said. "I think we proved that this weekend."
Patel, who finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds, said he and his teammates were not surprised by their success this season.
"Everybody expected us not to do anything this year," Patel said. "We came out and believed in ourselves when nobody else did. "
Schoffstall, who had 16 points (including a pair of 3s), said that despite the Vikings' lack of high-profile players, they have excelled as a group.
"It has been a great season and I wouldn't change a thing," Schoffstall said. "We have grown up playing together. I don't want to play with any D-I players, I want to play with these guys."
Widlowski echoed Schoffstall's sentiment.
"This is a great example of a team," Widlowski said. "We don't have a 6-foot-6, 280-pound player. But we definitely pass the team test, and they have done it all year long."