Fremd, Prospect have plenty of momentum as MSL resumes divisional play
When teams return to Mid-Suburban League girls basketball action on Friday night, Fremd and Prospect will each hold one-game leads in their respective West and East divisions.
And the two teams will hardly be void of momentum.
They are the only two from the conference who are coming off championship runs at holiday tournaments.
Coach Dave Yates' defending Class 4A champion Vikings took the title at the newly-formed Morton College tourney with a 46-40 win over Geneva, which won the 2017 and 2018 4A titles.
It was Yates' first championship in a Christmas tourney since he took over the Fremd program 16 years ago.
"I truly believe that Christmas is a time to test your team," said Yates, who also won two-second place Class 4A trophies (2016 and 1017) and a fourth-place (2015). "Playing over the years at the Montini and Morton tourneys, in Naples (FL) and in the Tournament of Champions (AZ), it's been an opportunity for our team to test ourselves."
The Vikings (14-4) were led in the title game in Cicero by Brianna Wooldridge (23 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) and Kace Urlacher (9 points), who also had a big 3-pointer.
Vikings' junior Maddy Fay was selected first-team all tourney while Wooldridge was named to the second team.
"To be honest, this tournament was an opportunity for us to rework our lineup and play Bri (who was recovering from a knee injury to start the season) and Maddy together which was something that I have been looking forward to."
Nikki Gonnella had 5 points, including the 3-pointer that began Fremd's rally from a 14-point deficit in the first half.
"I was proud of our team for putting together four straight days of strong play," Yates said. "Our comeback in the second half of the championship game is a great sign that this team can overcome a rough first half.
"It was great to see Bri play at the level she did in the championship game. She has worked very hard to come back from her injury and seeing her play as well as she did was a great sign for the rest of our season."
•While Fremd was champion of a first-year tourney, Prospect's title came at one of the state's oldest events, the 38th annual Blenner Classic at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights.
Talk about momentum.
The Knights made it 12 straight wins when it defeated the host Lions 61-39 to go 4-0 in the event.
"We learned a lot about our team over our Christmas tournament and we are continuing to grow as a team," said Prospect coach Matt Weber. "We also have had a lot of players step up to help the team."
In multiple games, Weber had starters off the floor but bench players stepped in and the Knights didn't miss a beat.
"Cameran Mather stepped in for Summer Srodulski when she was out and Emily Skoog stepped in for Macy Zei when she was out," Weber said. "We also had a lot of contributions from Katie Neal off of our bench to fill in."
In the four games at Viator, Prospect had four different players lead the team in scoring (Andie Will, vs St. Viator), Neal (off the bench vs. Resurrection), Summer Srodulski and Jess Reizer (vs. St. Ignatius) and Reizer and Zei vs Grayslake Central.
The Knights were 31-of-69 (45%) from 3-point land and averaged 11.5 assists per game in the four games.
"Our team really believes in playing pressure defense for all four quarters and also sharing the basketball on offense," Weber said. "Everyone who comes in the game at any time has this same mentality which makes it hard on opposing teams.
"Our senior leadership has been outstanding during our winning streak. We have high goals as a team and for us to reach these goals we want to keep improving, keep working on our weaknesses, and continue to get closer as a team."
•St. Viator ran its overall record to 12-5 after winning its last game in the Blenner.
The Lions defeated St. Ignatius with Nora Ahram (20 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 rebounds), Mia Bergstrom (13 points, 2 rebounds) and Joy Bergstrom (11 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) leading the way.
Joy Bergstrom, who is headed to South Dakota, reached the 1,500 mark in career points during the tourney.
Orozco joins 1,000 club:
Schaumburg took the consolation championship at Wheaton North and Alyssa Orozco joined a championship list of Saxons.
Orozco netted her 1,000th career point in a win over Elgin, becoming the eighth Saxon to achieve the milestone. The others are Kim Wallner, Amanda Kelly, Andrea Brooke, Mallory Gerber, Gabrielle Blackwell, Kylie Castans and Drewann Pancratz, who is now the head girls volleyball coach at Conant
Orozco, a four-year varsity player, is the second Saxon who coach Jacqie Strauch has watched score a 1,000th point as a Saxon. Gerber was the first.
Orozco's accomplishment was hardly a surprise to Strauch, a former Sandburg standout who got to her 1,000th point as a sophomore at the University of St. Francis in Joliet. She finished with more than 1,800 points and is the holder of all of the program's 3-point records.
"I have seen Alyssa play since she was in the feeder program and in junior high," Strauch said., "It was quite clear early on that Alyssa Orozco could score the basketball. Over the four years, she has only gotten stronger and better. Even through teams planning for her and denying her the ball, she still manages to score the ball."
Had COVID-19 not interfered with the shortened 2021 season, Strauch has no doubt Orozco would have accomplished 1,000 points as a junior.
"She plays basketball yearlong with her club team (Hustle) and with us at Schaumburg," Strauch added. "She aspires to play in college but has not made a decision on where she is going. Alyssa is an extremely humble person and it was great to see her celebrated throughout this experience."
The Saxons (10-6) experienced a nice run at the Wheaton North tourney. After a loss to Hinsdale Central, the Saxons defeated Bartlett, Elgin, and Jacobs to take the consolation prize. Orozco received all-tournament honors.
"We were disappointed in our loss to Hinsdale Central," Strauch said. "But we did our job on the consolation side. We are looking forward to 2022."
Madi Stark (Palatine) and Lili Duckmann (Elk Grove) were also all-tourney at the Wheaton North tourney.
Among the all-tourney selections at the Komaromy Classic at Dundee-Crown were Barrington's Sophie Swanson, Gwen Adler and Molly O'Riordan, Maine South's Emily Pape and Meegan Fahy and Buffalo Grove's Kim Stuercke and Leah McKenna.
Hersey goes 3-0:
Due to teams in COVID-19 protocol, the Grow the Game tournament was unable to have its bracketed tourney to determine a champion.
So Hersey just played three games in the event and won all of them.
Game MVPs were selected in each, and Huskies junior Meghan Mrowicki earned the honor twice.
Had they picked a MVP in Hersey's first game since the Grow the Game, Mrowicki may have been the choice.
The Notre Dame soccer recruit scored a team-high 24 points with 5 rebounds and 4 steals in a 59-50 nonconference win at Glenbrook North on Tuesday.
But don't ask Mrowicki how many points she scored or if it was her career high (which it wasn't).
"It's very Meghan-like to have no idea," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "She's not that kid that would keep track of anything like that but she sure looked great in that game."
Mrowicki did a great job in the Huskies' running game where she scored many of her points.
"In transition, it seems like sometimes she just hangs up in the air and is able to get a shot off, which I think most kids can't do," Fendley said. "So that's just a credit to her athleticism and to her teammates getting her the ball when she gets ahead in transition."
Although the Huskies (15-3) came back from a 15-2 first-quarter deficit on Tuesday for their fourth consecutive win, it wasn't their biggest comeback of the season.
"We were down 14 points at half to Maine South (at the Buffalo Grove Thanksgiving tournament and won 62-51)," Fendley said. "I liked how our girls didn't get discouraged when we got down (to Glenbrook North)."