Senior guard Colleen Kennedy said her Fremd girls basketball team has been discussing the importance of getting off to fast starts in the first and second halves.
That's exactly what the Vikings delviered at the Jean Walker Field House in Mt. Prospect on Tuesday night.
Fremd built a 7-2 lead in less than three minutes to start the Mid-Suburban League crossover and then opened the second half with a 17-4 rally en route to a 62-49 win over host Prospect.
"Honestly, that's what we've been talking about," Kennedy said. "We've been working on our starts and it was especially a good one in the second half. It was to good to get those leads and really pull together as a team."
It was another team effort for the Vikes as coach Dave Yates went deep on his bench again.
Freshman Ruthie Montella led the offense with a game-high 18 points followed by sophomore Caroline Cochran (13), junior Angie Zara (7) and Kennedy (7).
The Vikings improved to 11-7 and have now defeated the top three teams in the Mid-Suburban East, with previous wins over Rolling Meadows and Hersey.
Fremd was coming off losses to Batavia and St. Ignatius.
"It's definitely nice to come back with a win after a few losses," Kennedy added. "But we've been playing tough teams and getting better."
Ella Burns, Alyssa Honickel, Olivia Hill and Maddy McCarthy also put points on the board for the defending MSL West champions.
"It's crazy," Kennedy said about the deep bench. "It's so different from last season. We've got a ton of players but I think the level of play keeps up throughout all the subbing."
Honickel's stop-and-shoot bank shot gave Fremd a 14-6 lead late in the first quarter before a 3-pointer by senior Emily Frasco (team-high 13 points) got the Knights to within 14-9 after one period.
Burns came off the bench and quickly found the basket from 3-point range to give Fremd a 27-15 advantage in the second quarter.
A layup by junior Jessica Kowalcyzk and 2 free throws by Frasco got Prospect to within 27-19 at half but that's as close as the hosts would get.
Cochran connected for two of her 3-pointers during the visitors' big rally to start the second half.
Fremd gained its biggest lead at 46-26 when McCarthy drove for layup with 2:17 left in the third quarter.
"We faltered defensively," said Prospect coach Gabrielle Lovin. "You can't allow 62 points. Yes, Fremd is a very well-oiled machine. They do great job moving the ball and penetrating our zones.
"But we need to be accountable for that. We have to try and limit points. Our goal is to try and hold teams to less than 45 points."
Kowalczyk also reached double figures for Prospect (9-7) with 11 points while senior Sara Biesterfeldt chipped in 8 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter which helped the Knights cut into the deficit.
"Jessica (Kowalczyk) is intense on offense and defense," Lovin said. "She pushes ball up the floor well and has a quick release. She has played well for us this season.
"Sara has a great shot. She has been coming off the bench or starting. It proves anyone on this team can have an impact at any time."
Fremd returns to MSL West action on Friday against Barrington, holding a 1-game lead over Palatine.
"They're a very good team," Yates said of Prospect. "So we are pleased to come into this gym and win here. I was proud of our kids for coming out and being ready to play. I thought we had good balance again with a lot of kids stepping up and doing good things, and that's nice to see."
Montella's 18 points equaled her career high while Cochran's 13 were a personal best.
"I thought Caroline had another great game for us," Yates said. "Colleen Kennedy played some really good defense and had a good offensive game. And Ruthie did a real good job taking the ball to the basket."
Prospect, which is 1 game behind Rolling Meadows, swings back into East play against Wheeling on Friday.
"Every game is important in the East," Lovin said. "It can come down to one game. We have a very competitive conference and anything can happen."