Mundelein races past Fremd
Mundelein sped things up and derailed host Fremd 61-40 Friday in the Class 4A boys basketball regional final in Palatine.
Mundelein (29-4) won it first regional title since 2013. The Mustangs also ended Fremd's consecutive streak of regional titles at four.
"It was a hard-fought game against such a storied program," Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said. "It was a good physical game. Chippy. And that's what makes good teams good. That's what makes them good, that's what makes us good. You don't back down from that situation."
The game was very physical early with both teams actively participating.
Mundelein then used a late rally in the first quarter to lead the Vikings 13-8. Fremd (17-13) cut the lead to 18-17 on a basket by Max Wexley with 5:10 left in the first half.
That's when the Mustangs changed the tempo and went on a 12-0 run to close out the half with a 30-17 lead.
With Trey Baker and Conor Enright up on top of the Mundelein defense, they forced Fremd into four connective turnovers. Mundelein's 6-foot-8 Scottie Ebube, who would have 5 blocked shots, kept the Vikings from going inside and Fremd also missed four consecutive shots from the field.
"We expected it to be a physical game," said Enright, who finished with 8 points. "We wanted to speed things up a bit. That is kind of the dynamic of our team."
Baker, who was coming off a regional semifinal game against Wheeling where he knocked down 12 3-pointers, finished with a pair on Friday. But his activity of moving the ball around the Fremd defense was a key to Mundelein's offense.
"We wanted to have high energy early," said Baker, who finished with 18 points. "When we have the ball in transition, that's where we are our best. When we are pushing the ball and getting guys open, making plays in open space."
Fremd's scoreless drought lasted nearly nine minutes and ended on a Jack Walsh putback that made it 33-19. Fremd, which did not convert a 3-pointer until there was 1:40 to play in the game, would never get closer.
"We played hard, but we did not play our best," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "They are a very good opponent. We got stuck a number of times. The key was us coming up empty and that was a big turning point.
Fremd was led by Max Wexley, who had 15 points. Matt Wingen and Tafara Okammor each had 6 points.
"I feel bad for our seniors," Widlowski said. "They did a good job representing Fremd High School."
Mundelein, which got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Ebube and 8 points from Jack Bikus, will now travel to the Prospect sectional on Tuesday. The Mustangs will meet the host Knights, who won the Grant regional by stunning Buffalo Grove 45-26.
"No step before the one right in front of us," Badgley said. "We will enjoy this and start watching film and see where everything goes."