Fremd hangs on to beat Hoffman Estates
A rash of injuries took their toll on reigning Mid-Suburban West Division and conference champion Fremd last month.
First, it lost 6-foot-5 Kayman Hopkins with a season-ending knee injury.
Then, Jake Schoffstall and Charlie Towns contracted injuries that while not season-ending caused the duo to miss multiple contests.
However, thanks to a confluence of determination, experience, intangibles, plus a little luck, can give one just enough to persevere as the Vikings did in holding off visiting Hoffman Estates 40-35 Friday night in a boys basketball game in Palatine.
As a result, The Vikings (14-10, 5-3) kept their hopes of a repeat West title still standing. With two games to go in divisional play, Fremd remains tied with Barrington (18-5, 5-3) in third place, a game back of Schaumburg (20-5, 6-2) and two back of front-runner Palatine (16-10, 7-1).
The Pirates maintained the top with a 66-45 home win over Conant while the Broncos bested the Saxons at home 49-36 to knock Schaumburg out of its share of the lead.
"We battled tonight all the way through," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "Hoffman played well. We counted on our seniors to step up. I thought Max Wexley came up big when we needed it and Matt Wingen was key. His rebounding (game-high 7 rebounds and 7 points) and his defense in the last four minutes was outstanding."
As a matter of fact, Wingen's defense became contagious to the rest of his teammates as it held the Hawks (7-15, 0-8) to just 1-of-12 shooting in the fourth quarter. Fremd was also able to win the rebounding battle 29-10.
On the offensive side of the ledger, it was Wexley's long-distance successes down the stretch that got the Vikings the lead back for good after a 9-3 run had Hoffman ahead 33-31 on a 3-point play by Jevon Dobbins with 2:57 left in the third.
The 6-2 Viking senior guard connected from downtown 62 seconds later, putting the home team up 34-33 to start the fourth. His second trey broke a nearly three and a half minute scoring drought by both teams to expand the Fremd advantage to 37-33 with 4:38 left.
Wexley's third triple, which came with 2:33 left, would give the Vikings their biggest lead at 40-33. They would then hold on the rest of the way as they withstood a couple of offensive turnovers plus a pair of free throw misses as Hoffman Estates could only get a Vatsal Pandya hoop with 1:52 for its only points of the quarter. Pandya's 11 points led the Hawks, followed by Dobbins with 9. Hoffman shot 13 of 43 (30 percent) from the floor.
"I think our character showed," Hawks coach Luke Yanule said. "To come to this place and the success they've had in their gym, I'm proud of our execution. I thought we executed beautifully. We did everything we wanted to do except finish inside. That was it."