Fremd stays in MSL West pursuit by beating rival Palatine
With past experience having been immersed through its lower levels and feeder programs over the years, Fremd's Mid-Suburban West boys basketball clash at archival Palatine was nothing new to the visitors.
The Vikings saw an early 11-2 second-half run by the hosts wipe out an 11-point halftime lead leading to what would become a protracted struggle the rest of the way before the Vikings earned a 55-49 win that allowed them (7-1, 6-1) to keep pace with divisional leader Barrington.
"I think the boys had some poise tonight and it was nice to see especially in the last minute," Fremd coach and Palatine alum Bob Widlowski said. "For the last 30 years (dating to his time as an assistant to Mo Tharp prior to his succeeding him in 2002) it's been a battle every time and you knew they were going to come out and play. They made a nice run in the second half, but we answered their run well."
The Pirates (3-5, 3-4) got their comeback rolling on two of sophomore forward Tyler Swiercczek's 10 points from inside the paint. His next bucket with 4:27 left in the third got them within 29-27, setting the stage for the next 11-and-a-half minutes of pitched battle that saw the home team hang around, never trailing by more than 8 points. Palatine would close to within 51-49 on a Brandon Storm 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.
It would take back-to-back free throws from Fremd junior guards Eli Schoffstall (game-high 17 points) and Chris Smyros (13 points) to seal the deal.
Vikings' 6-foot-4 senior center Jack Walsh added 15 points and 14 rebounds inside to aid the Fremd triumph.
"I'm a bigger guy, so I have to be able to rebound for my team," Walsh, the Wyoming football recruit who had 3 blocks and 3 assists on the night, said.
"Rebounds in this league are crucial. Extra possessions are very crucial, so you really want to limit them on the defensive side. If you have double the amount of shots over the other team more than likely you're going to win."
Senior guard Luke Seiffert led the Palatine effort with 16 points.
The Pirates will host Elk Grove Saturday evening for Senior Night, a night at one point that according to their coach Eric Millstone might not have taken place.
"We're just taking each day as it comes and appreciating every chance we have to play a game," Millstone said.
Fremd will play host to current MSL East runner-up Hersey on Saturday evening.