Fremd's frosh finish it against Palatine
Fremd's freshmen finished Friday night, and the Vikings have opened up with a 3-0 record in the Mid-Suburban West.
Ninth-graders Grace LaBarge and Ruthie Montella combined for Fremd's 5 fourth-quarter points which proved to be enough for the Vikings to hand crosstown rival Palatine its first loss, 35-34, in a playoff atmosphere in the Fremd gymnasium.
Just after 5-foot-11 senior Sydney Rzepka drove the baseline and twisted around her defender for a bank shot and 32-20 lead with 5:25 left in the game, it was the 6-2 LaBarge driving for a layup to tie the game at 32 with 4:35 left.
Then came what both coaches agreed was probably the biggest shot of the game.
The 5-11 Montella fired home a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 35-32 with 3:52 left and the Fremd defense made it stand up for the win.
"We got a bunch of film on (Fremd) and watched a ton," said Palatine coach Mark Johnson. "If someone was going to beat us, we were going to try to make it one of their freshmen, and tonight, she did. Ruthie hit that big 3-pointer for them."
"That was a huge shot," said Fremd coach Dave Yates, whose team is 8-3 overall. "Both teams were struggling to score the whole game and it was just a matter of who was going to make that little push at the end. We got Grace hitting that basket to tie it, and then Ruthie's shot was huge. It gave us the cushion we needed."
Montella credited her teammates for her only basket of the game.
"It was a really good look and it was set up by teammates," Montella said. "They all did the job by moving the ball and staying strong. All our coaches and older players really helped us get this win.
"It was really cool to get to actually play in this game after all the years watching the rivalry. Both teams played really well so it's great that we got to stay undefeated in the conference."
Palatine senior guard Kacie Filian's 10-footer in the lane made it 35-34 with 6.5 seconds left.
After a timeout by Johnson, the Pirates (7-1, 1-1) forced a turnover, getting the ball back with 4.6 seconds left.
But scrappy defense by Fremd didn't allow the Pirates to get a shot off in the final seconds.
"I was pretty happy with everything down the stretch," Yates said. "We just put some stops together. Colleen Kennedy played some really good defense. Despite all the opportunities we gave them, we kept getting stops and that's good growth for our group."
One stop in the final minutes came on a block and steal by sophomore Olivia Hill, who had 3 blocked shots for the game. Montella also had 2 big defensive rebounds down the stretch.
Sophomore Emily Klaczek (3 steals) and LaBarge each scored 10 points to lead the Fremd offense. Sophomores Ella Burns and Maddy McCarthy each hit 3-pointers in the first half while junior Angie Zara had 3 steals.
"It was a fantastic basketball game," Johnson said. "Our girls played great team defense in the second half. Emily Klaczek didn't have a point in the half which was key for us. That kept us in the game."
Senior guard Jenny Myslinski led the Pirates with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
"We definitely gave 110 percent the whole time," Myslinski said. "It was such a good game. We had some bad turnovers that we have to work on. But we played with our hearts the whole time and we are looking forward playing them again on our court."
Filian finished with 9 points for the Pirates while classmate Anja Jacobsen (two-3-pointers) scored all eight of Palatine's points in the second quarter.
"We just made a few mistakes but this was a big-game atmosphere for us which we haven't been in a lot," Johnson added. "Fremd has tons of experience with that. It's a learning experience for us and we're going to take something good out of this. We are looking forward to playing St. Charles North (at Lake Zurich JammExam) on Tuesday.
"We went down swinging. Fremd is young and doesn't have a lot of varsity experience but they have the experience of the culture. It's exactly where it needs to be and that's what we are attempting to achieve. I'm just proud of our girls and how hard they work."