Palatine and Fremd basketball games have always been a friendly rivalry, according to Palatine coach Eric Millstone.
"The players all know each other," said Millstone before the game. "Both teams want to beat each other."
Round one in this year's Mid-Suburban West series went decisively in favor of the host Vikings on Friday night.
Fremd shook off poor shooting and ball-handling in the first quarter and went on to whip the Pirates 47-21 in the Mid-Suburban West. Fremd improved to 7-1 and 2-0 in conference play. The Pirates dropped to 4-3 and 1-1.
"We didn't play well on offense in the first quarter," said Fremd's Ryan Martin, who scored 10 points and 7 rebounds. "But we did play good defense, and that helped jump-start us in the second quarter."
Both teams scored just 5 points each in the first quarter. Fremd shot 1-for-9 and Palatine 2-for-7 from the field. The Vikings committed 8 turnovers and Palatine had 5 miscues.
Bryce Hopkins broke the 5-all tie by hitting a 3 with 7:15 left in the second quarter for Fremd. The Vikings never trailed after that point.
By the end of the first half Fremd had doubled up the score at 16-8.
Dean Ganas came off the bench to score on a layup off a steal and then hit a 3 for a 13-7 Fremd lead.
"Ganas came off the bench and gave us some great minutes," said Fremd coach Bob Widlowski. "He came up with some loose balls and gave us a great spark."
Fremd's defense then got into high gear, limiting Palatine to one basket on 1-of-7 shooting from the field in the third quarter.
Hopkins (12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) hit a 3 to start the second half. John Smyros followed with an assist by Luke Seidel, and the Vikings were off.
Lamon Berry scored the only basket in the quarter for the Pirates before Fremd finished off the quarter with a 10-0 run for a 31-10 lead.
The Vikings came up with 4 steals and turned them into 6 points.
"It starts with defense," said Hopkins. "If we come out strong on defense that will lead to offense. Things just kind of snowballed for us in the second quarter and we kept the momentum."
Palatine's Jake Moertl fired in two 3s to start the quarter, cutting the lead to 31-16. Fremd came back with a 16-0 run to lead 47-16 with 2:16 left in the game.
The Vikings used 3 more steals (of their total of 12) to score 6 points in the run. Martin finished the surge with a steal and score.
"We look at the success we had last year as a team and try to use the same pattern," said Martin. "We want to but pressure on the ball and make teams uncomfortable. We got a lot of steals tonight because we had good position on defense."
"Fremd was ready to go from the start," said Palatine coach Eric Millstone. "We were outplayed, outhustled and outcoached. We did not play 32 minutes of good basketball."
"We had a good week in preparing for this game," said Widlowski. "It was a complete game for us on both end of the floor. This was a game that Ron Cregier would have been proud to be at tonight."
Cregier, a long-time assistant to Widlowski, was tragically killed in a car crash in the early fall of this year. Fremd took a moment to honor Cregier before the game, with a moment of silence, along with a bouquet of flowers for his wife Marge, from Widlowski.
Jonathan, Ron's son and a Daily Herald sports staffer, had the honor of presenting the game ball to the officials before the contest.