Scouting the Mid-Suburban League title game
Scouting the MSL title game
What: 46th annual Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship
Where and when: Rolling Meadows High School, 7 p.m. Wednesday
Teams: MSL East champion Rolling Meadows (20-6, 8-2) vs. MSL West champion Fremd (24-4, 10-0)
How they got here: Rolling Meadows went 8-2 in the MSL East, winning its final two games on back-to-back nights against teams it had lost to (Buffalo Grove and Prospect) in the first half of division play. The Mustangs finished one game ahead of runner-up Hersey (7-3). "Every night in the MSL East was a battle, and I am proud of how our kids responded down the stretch," said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky.
Fremd went 10-0 for the seventh time in the last nine years and has won 58 of its last 61 games in the MSL West. The Vikings' 53-44 win over Conant in round two was their closest game in the West. Fremd finished four games ahead of runner-up Barrington (6-4). The Vikings had won eight straight West titles until last season.
"If anything, last year was humbling for our group," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "We had been in the game eight straight years and then our girls had to go and watch it. That was a motivation factor for this year. They didn't want to watch it. They wanted to be in it."
The coaches: Fremd's Dave Yates, a St. Edward High School graduate in his 12th season running the program, is the only person to coach in an MSL title game eight straight years (2011 to 2017).
Tom Dineen did it five straight times at Buffalo Grove from 1996 to 2000.
Yates' teams lost to Wheeling in 2010, defeated Hersey in 2011, lost to Rolling Meadows in 2012, defeated Rolling Meadows in 2013, defeated Rolling Meadows in 2014, defeated Prospect in 2015, defeated Buffalo Grove in 2016 and lost to Hersey in 2017.
Ryan Kirkorsky, a Buffalo Grove High School graduate, is making his third appearance in the MSL title game in six years as the Mustangs' coach. His two previous times were also against Fremd in 2012 and 2013, the two years the Mustangs were the Class 4A state runners-up.
Fremd's starting lineup: Emily Klaczek (5-foot-10 junior guard), Angie Zara (5-10 junior guard), Ruthie Montella (6-0 sophomore guard), Olivia Hill (6-0 junior forward), Brianna Wooldridge (6-2 freshman forward).
Fremd reserves: Grace LaBarge (6-3 sophomore forward), Kendall Maloney 5-10 junior guard), Ella Burns (5-7 junior guard), Grace Cox (5-11 junior forward), Ally Sheehan (5-8 junior guard), Crystal Kim (5-4 junior guard), Maddy McCarthy (5-9 sophomore guard), Katie Hansen (6-3 junior forward), Allie Prigge (5-6 junior guard), Liz Prigge (5-10 junior forward), Caroline Cochran (5-10 junior guard), Eleanor Klink (6-3 junior center).
Rolling Meadows' starting lineup: Alexa Davis (5-7 senior guard), Lily Greifenstein (5-7 senior guard), Mallory Brand (6-0 senior forward), Susannah Holifield (5-10 junior forward), Moria Hickey (5-7 freshman guard)
Rolling Meadows reserves: Elise Kowalski (5-10 senior forward), Kristin Dillon (5-6 senior guard), Kathleen Maltese (5-8 senior guard), Madison Aiello (5-4 junior guard), Kelly Boyle (5-7 junior guard), Bridget Rolla (5-7 junior guard), Kelsie Campbell (5-7 junior guard), Allison Sellergren (5-8 freshman guard), Samantha Elenz (5-7 sophomore guard), Sarah Ingemunson (5-9 junior forward), Colleen Cox (5-11 junior forward).
Head-to-head meeting: Fremd and Rolling Meadows met Nov. 20 in a game that decided the Turkey Thriller championship at Lake Zurich High School. Fremd won 59-48 with Emily Klaczek (18 points), Ruthie Montella (11) and Brianna Wooldridge (9) leading the offense. Rolling Meadows' top scorers were Moira Hickey (11 points), Alexa Davis (10) and Susannah Holifield (9).
Dave Yates on Meadows: "They're a hard team to play because all their kids can shoot 3-pointers. They are really well coached and they play with pace."
Ryan Kirkorsky on Fremd: "There is a reason Fremd is one of the top-ranked teams in the state. They are talented, balanced and well-coached. Dave has done an exceptional job of integrating his youth with his veteran players. They have so many weapons on offense."
Yates on the game: "Anytime we play them, it's an exciting and competitive game. We are looking forward to it. Rolling Meadows has had a good string of winning their division (five times first or tied for first in last eight years) so that's pretty awesome and a testament to what a great program they've had."
Kirkorsky on the game: "We need to be connected defensively and rebound as a team. I know our kids are looking forward to the challenge on Wednesday night. We are excited to have this opportunity to play Fremd for the MSL championship."
Polling time: Fremd and Rolling Meadows have each been ranked in the Class 4A poll season. The Vikes are currently No. 3 (behind Maine West and Rock Island) and are coming off a double overtime win over the No. 3 ranked Class 3A team, Morton.
Rolling Meadows, once ranked as high as No. 8, has been among teams receiving votes.
Fremd was ranked as high as No. 2.
The Vikings, led by Hakey Gorecki, were Class 4A state runners-up in 2015 and 2016.
"This year's team is more about balance," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "We have seven kids who are at 5 or more points. So we have a lot of kids who can score and a lot of interchangeable parts. In years past, I think you could say shut down Haley Gorecki or shut down this player. But this year, we have lot of different kids who will step up."
The history: Until 2012, Rolling Meadows had only been in the title game twice -- 1975 and 1994 when Mark Thorne guided the Mustangs to the Mid-Suburban South championship.
Fremd's 17 MSL crowns are a record. Former Hall of Fame coach Carol Plodzien was 12-for-12 in the showcase game (including the first four from 1973 to 1977) while Yates is now 5-for-8.
Halftime honorees: All-conference players will be introduced to the crowd at halftime along with the Players of the Year from the MSL East and West.