Young Fremd squad hasn't stopped winning

  • Fremd's Grace LaBarge, left, goes after a loose ball Lake Park's Emma Thorne in the 2020 Class 4A state girls basketball semifinals in Normal. LaBarge and the Vikings are 7-0 this season.

    Fremd's Grace LaBarge, left, goes after a loose ball Lake Park's Emma Thorne in the 2020 Class 4A state girls basketball semifinals in Normal. LaBarge and the Vikings are 7-0 this season. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/24/2021 4:45 PM

With a large senior exodus from a year ago, the Fremd girls basketball team was bound to encounter highs and lows this season.

Yeah, right.


The Vikings, with a much smaller senior contingent than last year, are doing just fine, thank-you, sporting a 7-0 mark through midweek (6-0 in MSL West play).

"The limited practices we have had we have been really focused," Fremd senior forward Grace LaBarge said. "We are a young team, but we got to know each other and got to focusing on really trusting each other. We know we play better together with trust."

LaBarge admitted this COVID-19-shortened season has been a learning curve, but in a good way. "During and after games we are learning from our mistakes," she said. "If we come in at halftime and are not offensive rebounding, we are reminded of that and then we'll start offensive rebounding. If a really good shooter is making all her shots, then she is contested by us. We fix the little things during the game and the bigger things after."

Fremd coach Dave Yates, who led the Vikes to the Class 4A state title last year, said conditioning was a big concern of his in the early going. "We are not there yet, but we are much improved from where we were since our first game," he said.

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Yates also lauded the recent play of Sam Prigge, who he noted wasn't sure if she was going to play this year. "Sam has made solid contributions on the court as well as in many areas beyond the court," he said.

Vikings sophomore Maddie Fay posted a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) in her first varsity start last weekend.

One date to quickly circle on the calendar? Saturday in Arlington Heights when the Vikings, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A in the most recent Associated Press poll, face No. 1 Hersey (tip at 7:15 p.m.) in an MSL crossover.

"I have played AAU with Mary Kate (Fahey) and Mary (McGrath) from Hersey," said LaBarge, who will play at Quinnipiac University next season. "Hersey is a great team and their record shows that. We're very excited to play them."

Hersey update:

Speaking of Hersey, coach Mary Fendley marvels at the recent play underneath of Avery Larson.

"Avery has been an incredible rebounder and finisher around the basket," said Fendley, whose team is 8-0 overall and 6-0 in league play. "She sprained her ankle earlier in the season, but now that she's back at 100 percent, she really elevates our game in the post."


Fendley noted Hersey is shooting close to 80 percent from the foul line this season. "We haven't really had a game yet where free throws have been a difference-maker, but it sure is nice being 77 percent for when we have one of those games," she noted.

Buffalo Grove update:

Some recent Bison standout numbers: Olivia Genthner had 14 rebounds against Elk Grove, while sophomore Kora Kipley poured in a season-high 18 points against Palatine. Freshman Hanna Glanz took the team's first charge of the year. "Celebrating the little things," coach Martha Kelly said.

Schaumburg update:

The Saxons' unsung hero thus far, you ask? "Marisa Vodicka comes to every game ready to play," coach Jacqie Strauch said. "She is a constant beam of energy for our team. Even if she doesn't score a point, her efforts to get on the ground for a loose ball, defend the other team's best player and consistently make the little plays, strengthen our team each game."

Barrington update:

A recipe for recent success for the Fillies has been defense and freshman Gwen Adler. Defensively, Barrington is holding foes to 37 points per game and forcing just over 20 turnovers a contest. Adler has been a force on the glass at 10 rebounds per game, while averaging 8 points and hitting 91 percent of her foul shots.

Wheeling update:

Wildcats coach Beth Christell likes what she has seen recently from Nikki Niznik and Marlena Miloucheva. "Nikki has been our top defender and has been working on her offensive skills throughout the season," she said. "Marlena has been an aggressive offensive threat for us every game as our consistent point guard."

Rolling Meadows update:

A key cog in the Mustangs' win over Barrington was Moira Hickey, who had 7 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. "Moira brings a level of toughness to our team," coach Ryan Kirkorsky said. "She can do a little bit of everything, and in our win against Barrington I thought she was the key with her leadership and play."

Maine South update:

Coach Jeff Hamann points out senior forward Ellie Ronan started in the program on the freshman B team. Now, she's a college commit headed to Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. Ronan is averaging nearly a double-double per game at 10 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Maine West update:

Jade Thomas had quite the night with 22 points recently against Maine East. "Jade played hard and looked to score instead of just being present," complimented Warriors coach Kim deMarigny.

Leyden update:

A mover and shaker on both ends of the court for the Eagles has been junior Jocelyn Muenster. "She played limited minutes on varsity last year as a sophomore, and this year has completely taken over each game," Leyden coach Stephanie Kuzmanic said. Through Tuesday, Muenster was averaging 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2 steals, while shooting 53 percent.

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