When Elliott Kim sank a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to give Fremd's boys basketball team a 37-36 lead at the Lake Zurich Class 4A sectional on Tuesday night, the Vikings' fans were delirious with excitement.
Some skeptics didn't believe that a No. 10 seed could knock off a far higher seed in the No. 2 Barrington Broncos.
On the other hand, Fremd had split the Mid-Suburban West season series with the Broncos, with each team winning on its home court.
And Fremd had some impressive recent evidence on its side, having already defeated higher seeds at the Buffalo Grove regional last week. The Vikings had edged the No. 6 host Bison at the buzzer on a Ryan Martin 3, and Fremd also eliminated No. 3 Stevenson in the regional championship.
"I really thought that we could win the sectional also," said Fremd boys basketball coach Bob Widlowski. "They left their mark on this team by winning the regional."
The sectional final eluded them ultimately, as Barrington outscored Fremd 19-8 in the final quarter to post a 55-45 triumph.
Fremd finished its season at 17-12 and 5-5 in conference play. The Vikings were without Bryce Hopkins who was still nursing an injury suffered several weeks ago.
With Hopkins in the lineup, Fremd won their first meeting 57-49 and lost the second -- 53-43 with Hopkins out.
"We battled a lot of adversity this year," said senior forward and co-captain Ryan Martin. "We were a young group when the season started. We tried very hard to win our games throughout the season. We tried to make every possession count tonight."
Junior Dean Ganas paced Fremd with 12 points, while Martin finished his career with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Martin also finished in second in program history for the most appearances in state tournament games, behind only 1980s star Jason Joseph.
"We battled to the end of the game," Widlowski said. "We have program players, and they were to make themselves better as players and us better as a team. My biggest disappointment is that the senior season is over and we don't get to practice anymore."
Hopkins, who was instrumental in the Vikings' success, had to watch the last few weeks from the bench.
"I am just so proud of this team that we were able to get to the sectional," Hopkins said. "It showed the passion that this team has and how hungry they were to win. I look at this season as huge success. We had a good group this year. We were like brothers. I always had confidence in this team."
Fremd started the season with a second-place finish (4-1) at the Mundelein Thanksgiving Tournament. Their high-water mark was at 7-1 after a 47-21 win over neighborhood rival Palatine.
Fremd then went 2-5 to drop to 9-7 before a three-game losing streak late in the season saw Fremd finish the regular season at 15-11.
The Vikings bounced back with the 51-48 win over Buffalo Grove after losing in the Mid-Suburban crossover 55-48 the week before.
"I tried to lead this team on the court," Martin said. "I can look back and know I had a great career here at Fremd. It was a tough loss. Looking back there will be some great memories of me playing basketball at Fremd."