Fremd wins dramatic MSL title game over Hersey

  • Fremd players including Ruthie Montella (5) celebrate their team's 57-56 victory over Hersey during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday.

      Fremd players including Ruthie Montella (5) celebrate their team's 57-56 victory over Hersey during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Fremd players celebrate their team's 57-56 victory over Hersey during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday.

      Fremd players celebrate their team's 57-56 victory over Hersey during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Fremd players pose with their trophy following their 57-56 victory over Hersey during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday.

      Fremd players pose with their trophy following their 57-56 victory over Hersey during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Fremd's Olivia Hill drives past Hersey's Natalia Kubsik as she looks for the go-ahead basket during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Fremd won the game 57-56.

      Fremd's Olivia Hill drives past Hersey's Natalia Kubsik as she looks for the go-ahead basket during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Fremd won the game 57-56. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey, left, and Fremd's Emily Klaczek go to the floor for a loose ball during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Fremd won the game 57-56.

      Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey, left, and Fremd's Emily Klaczek go to the floor for a loose ball during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Fremd won the game 57-56. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Katy Eidle, right, blocks a shot by Fremd's Grace LaBarge during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Fremd won the game 57-56.

      Hersey's Katy Eidle, right, blocks a shot by Fremd's Grace LaBarge during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Fremd won the game 57-56. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey celebrates after drawing a foul by a Fremd player at the end of the first quarter during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Fremd won the game 57-56.

      Hersey's Mary Kate Fahey celebrates after drawing a foul by a Fremd player at the end of the first quarter during the Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship game in Palatine Wednesday. Fremd won the game 57-56. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/12/2020 10:59 PM

Wednesday's thrilling Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship saw Hersey leading most of the night.

But then Fremd senior Olivia Hill saw an opportunity, and the Bowling Green recruit stepped up to help lead her Vikings to a dramatic 57-56 triumph over visiting Hersey in the 47th annual showcase event.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hill's half-circle sweeping layup with 5.8 seconds left proved to be the winning points after Hersey freshman Meghan Mrowicki had dramatically put the Huskies in front 56-55 with a steal and layup with 25 seconds left.

Fremd won an unprecedented 19th MSL title for the program, which has been led by only two coaches (Carol Plodzien and Dave Yates).

Hill, who scored a game-high 18 points, took to heart the words she's heard many times from Yates and his assistant James Han.

"This whole week our coaches said we need that 'fight mentality' and it was like all of a sudden that flicked in my brain," Hill said. "It was like I said 'Ok, now it's time to go and we're not losing.'

"That's kind of been how Mr. Yates and Mr. Han have motivated us throughout the years. They'll say it's time to finish the game."

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Hill did that brilliantly, netting 16 of her points in the second half, to ignite a rally from a 35-26 deficit with 6:38 left in the third quarter.

Hill scored the Vikings' first 6 points of the second half and then connected on a 3-poitner from the top of the arc that got Fremd (23-8) to within 38-36.

But Hersey (24-7) stayed strong as Mrowicki (17 points) answered with a 3-pointer for a 5-point lead.

The Huskies led 46-40 after three quarters and still owned a 6-point advantage with under three minutes to play.

But junior Grace LaBarge (11 points) fired home a 3-pointer before Hill made a steal and then assisted on Ruthie Montella's layup to get Fremd to within 54-53 with 2:14 left.

Montella (11 points) finally gave Fremd its first lead of the half when she got fouled going for a rebound and converted 2 free throws for a 55-54 edge with one minute left.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After Mrowicki's big bucket with 25 seconds, Hill produced the game-winner off an inbound pass from Caroline Cochran under the Vikings' basket.

"Caroline threw it to me and I was like 'there's not many seconds left I might as well go for it' and it worked out," Hill said.

"Olivia willed us back into that game," said Yates, who won his seventh MSL crown. "It was awesome to see her play at that level. She is the one who put us over. She kept at it and that's what we've always been telling her -- just keep going and playing hard."

That's exactly what senior Liz Prigge did on defense, going up against one of the top freshmen in the state, Katy Eidle (7 points), of Hersey.

"I thought Liz did a really nice job on Eidle," Yates said. "Eidle is a wonderful player and I thought Liz did a great job defending her."

Hersey coach Mary Fendley, a winner of three MSL crowns, felt Mrowicki and Mary McGrath (8 points) did a stellar job on three-time MSL West Player of the Year Emily Klaczek.

"Meghan was really good on both ends," Fendley said. "Mary and Meghan were just terrific on Klaczek (5 points). She is such a hard kid to guard and they held her to one basket (3-pointer) by working really hard on Fremd's possessions"

Fendley was extremely proud of her team's effort.

"Mary Kate (Fahey, who had 14 points) had a terrific first half," Fendley said. "Credit Fremd's defense. They made it tough for Katy (Eidle) to get open looks. I thought Natalia (Kubsik, who had 8 points) was so strong and hit some shots. Avery (Larson) really did a good job keeping ball alive, especially on offensive boards.

Hersey had won 13 straight games.

"I was really happy with how we played," Fendley added. "Obviously we're super disappointed we weren't able to win after being up most of the game but hopefully we can learn from this and use it to get the next close game we play in the upcoming state series.

"I loved everything about our sportsmanship. I don't think complained at all when things didn't go our way. We just went about our business and that's as hard as anything in a loud, competitive atmosphere like we had."

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