Nazareth hands Fremd first loss
As the Fremd girls basketball team made its way down to Lombard for its semifinal against Nazareth Academy in the Montini Christmas tournament, the big question coach Dave Yates pondered was this:
Could his Vikings put together enough energy after an emotional triple-overtime win over Benet Academy just 24 hours earlier?
Fremd was trying to come away with its third straight win over an East Suburban Catholic Conference school and earn a Saturday night date with the host Broncos in the final.
Unfortunately for Yates and his team, the answer was no, as the Roadrunners held off Fremd's late rally to win 44-35 on Friday night and hand the Vikings their first loss of the season.
Nazareth will face Montini (14-1) in Saturday's 8:15 p.m. final.
The tournament host held off Mother McAuley 39-38 in the first semifinal to earn a rematch against Nazareth, which gave Montini its first loss at the Harvest Christian Thanksgiving tournament on Nov. 16.
Fremd (17-1) will play Mother McAuley (15-1) for third place at 6:30 p.m.
"Honestly, I thought the gas tank was on 'E' at the start of the game," Yates said. "We talked to our kids at halftime about kind of snapping out it. We had too many stretches where we went scoreless."
It turned out that the second half was a microcosm for the Vikings. They rallied after trailing 23-12 at halftime to pull within 31-28 at the end of the third, as 5-10 junior guard Emily Klaczek connected on 11 of her game-high 17 points, including 9 straight points in the final 3:35 that featured a coast-to-coast drive with 1:11 left.
Then after a 12-footer for her final points of the contest at the 3:33 mark of the fourth, a Grace Labarge 3 evened things up at 35-35 with 2:43 remaining before Nazareth outscored the Vikings 9-0 down the stretch. Fremd went just 2 of 10 from the floor in the final stanza.
Harvard-bound senior forward Annie Stritzel paced the Roadrunners with 16 followed by junior guard Kaylen Evans with 14.