Free throws help Fremd put away Hersey
Hersey gave the No. 4 ranked team in the Class 4A state girls basketball poll a run for its money on Monday night at the Libertyville sectional semifinal.
But top-seeded Fremd (27-4) cashed in with 9-of-10 free throws in the final 1:34 to put away a 43-35 triumph over the No. 4 seeded Huskies.
The Vikings advance to Thursday's championship at 7 p.m. to meet the winner of Tuesday's semifinal game between No. 2 Lake Forest and No. 3 Libertyville.
Olivia Hill, Ruthie Montella and Grace LaBarge each went 2-for-3 at the line in the final minute and a half while Mid-Suburban West Player of the Year Emily Klaczek hit 3-of-4 to seal the win.
Hersey had reduced Fremd's 39-24 lead with 3:35 left in the third quarter to 34-30 when Mary Kate Fahey hit 2 free throws with 2:04 left in the game.
"I wish we would have taken care of the of the ball a little better," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "As much as I love our team, we're always learning.
"We struggled at times but I felt we had a good second and third quarter to give ourselves enough of a lead. Credit Mary (Fendley, Hersey coach). They played hard, battled the whole game made us earn this."
Fahey's 3-pointer got Hersey to within 37-33 but Montella hit 2 big free throws to extend the lead to 39-33 with 56 seconds left.
"I've gotten a lot of opportunities lie that over the season," Montella said. "I've kind of gotten used to it.
"It's a pretty big rivalry with Hersey. We've heard a lot about them from the older kids and we were really excited we got to play them in the sectional semifinal."
"Hersey is always big competition for us," said junior Olivia Hill, who led Fremd with 14 points along with 6 blocked shots, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. "It was an exciting game. They are definitely super aggressive on the boards so it was important to box out."
Klaczek and Montella each chipped in 9 points while LaBarge added 5.
Fahey led Hersey with 14 points and Emily Collins had 11. Mary McGrath and Aya El-Fiky each chipped in 4 points for the Huskies.
"I think they one more field goal than us so the difference was free throws," said Fendley, whose team put up 17 points in the third quarter.
"My videographer (Danny Rueda), who has worked for us for four years, said at the end of the game that it's been 'a pleasure working for you'. And that best sums it up for me, too. These girls have truly been a pleasure to coach."
Fendley had no idea how this team would respond with only one returning starter back.
"I didn't know if Brianna (Luciano, a softball standout) was going to come back after not playing last year," she said. "M.K. was hurt all summer so she didn't get to play. She broke her wrist. Obviously I knew nothing about Aya coming from Egypt (exchange student).
"So to take this kind of group of kids made it special. All five our seniors led by example. They put all the pieces together. That was not coaching, it was our seniors who were supportive of each other through the good and bad. And that's what it takes."
With one returning starter (Fahey), the Huskies went 21-8 and won a regional championship.
"It was truly a pleasure to coach this group," Fendley said. "No one played a tougher schedule and I think that paid off tonight in that we gave Fremd all they could handle. I'm really proud of this girls."