Hoffman Estates notches MSL West victory over Fremd

By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/27/2022 10:12 PM

As halftime was winding down, Ranka Sparavalo, the mother of Hoffman Estates senior captain Luka Sparavalo shouted out a message in Serbian to Nick Vukovic.

"No birthday cake for you and Mike if you don't win tonight," said Ranka.


At that point Hoffman Estates trailed host Fremd 24-21.

The Vukovic brothers must have taken the threat to heart as the Hawks upended Fremd 46-37 Thursday night in Palatine in the Mid-Suburban West.

"Yes, I heard what she said," said Nick Vukovic. "We came out with energy in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Doing that led us to be the winner. When we lost to them in December (62-36) our team was coming off COVID protocols and we didn't have much time to practice. That game was in the back of our minds."

DJ Wallace started the 11-0 third-quarter run with a 3-point play to tie the score at 24.

Mike Vuckovic (18 points) put the Hawks (18-4, 4-3) ahead for good with 6:26 left in the quarter. Then, the Hawks' Darien Irvin stole the ball and made a slam dunk. Mike Vuckovic followed with 2 baskets and after Fremd's Ryan Sammons scored, followed with another steal and basket for a 34-26 lead.

"When I scored on the slam dunk it was pure excitement," said Irvin, who finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds. "It was a big turning point for us. When we lost to Fremd in December that one stung. We had it in the back of our minds. I just hope Mike and Nick bring strawberry shortcake. That's my favorite."

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The other turning point was points off turnovers.

Fremd (13-8, 3-4) scored 6 points off 3 Hawk turnovers in the first quarter but then none the rest of the game. Hoffman Estates on the other hand scored 12 points of Fremd's 14 turnovers.

"We gave them some buckets off transition and turnovers," said Vikings coach Bob Widlowski. "We had some chances to cut into the lead but they hit their free throws down the stretch."

Caiden Suchy led Fremd with 12 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out. Sammons scored 9 and Eli Schofstall had 7 points.

Nick Vuckovic scored 9 points for Hoffman.

"Darien was incredible for us," said Hoffman coach Peter McBride. "He put out a lot of energy. We had to be physical to match them, and we were. It was a great win for us."

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