Fremd falls to Class 3A power Sycamore

 
By Bobby Narang
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/5/2022 8:31 PM

Sycamore sophomore guard Lexi Carlsen chased down the loose ball careening toward the student section with reckless abandon in Saturday's nonconference girls basketball game against Fremd.

By grabbing the missed shot near the baseline, Carlsen secured one of the biggest victories in Sycamore program history, causing her to put up the No. 1 finger in the air much to the delight of the large crowd.

 

Throughout the season, the Spartans have loaded up their schedule for battles against some of the top teams in the state to gear up for a long run in the Class 3A playoffs.

That plan paid off against the highly-ranked Class 4A Vikings.

Sycamore senior guard Faith Feuerbach scored 13 points, Carlsen tossed in 12, Ella Shipley added 11 points and Evyn Carrier had 10 points in a thrilling 49-47 win over Fremd in Sycamore.

Before a large home crowd, the Spartans (26-1) mounted a late comeback to knock off the defending 4A state champions.

When Carlsen secured the rebound off a potential game winning 3-point shot, she clutched the ball and celebrated amid a mass of students and players on the court.

Many of the Spartans celebrated by milling around the court, well after the game ended -- and even signed autographs.

"This win means to much," Feuerbach said. "We love playing tough teams. We've played tough teams all season, and this is a testament to how much we've improved throughout the year. The team came ready to play, and it was a huge team win."

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The 6-foot-1 Feuerbach, a St. Thomas recruit, made one of the biggest shots in recent program history, scoring on a lay-in off a designed play with 12.5 seconds left. The Spartans exploded in party-like happiness after Feuerbach's shot, which wiped away the frustration from shooting 1-for-7 from the free-throw line in the final four minutes that nearly derailed any chance for a victory. Shipley tied the game at 47-all with a free throw with 1:34 left.

"We milked the clock, to see if they were going to foul us and we ran the play around 20 seconds, and I just went up and knew by then, they would foul, and just hoped I made it," Feuerbach said.

Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said the victory over Fremd (24-6) proved his team could compete against the elite teams in the state.

"It was huge," Wickness said. "This was one of those games where we had it circled for a long time, wanted it to be right before the playoffs. We thought this would be a good game for both teams.

A week after suffering their first loss of the season to Lincoln-Way West at Trinity High School in River Grove, the Spartans bounced back with a collective effort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I'm so proud of how we stepped up when we needed to, survived their run in the third quarter," Wickness said. "There's no quit in our team. I'm having such an unbelievable time coaching them. This is what you want going into the playoffs, big wins and notches on your belt."

Sycamore junior center Evyn Carrier, back for her second game in a row after missing two-plus weeks, showed she's not showing any lingering effects from her injury. She played solid defense, hit a second-quarter 3-pointer and helped the Spartans handle Fremd's quartet of interior players.

Carrier, who has offers from St. Thomas, Indiana State and Western Michigan, said the Spartans are primed for a deep run in the playoffs.

"That was crazy, especially after coming off our first loss, which humbled us and took some pressure off of us," Carrier said. "So, to come back and win a big game like this, it's special because we've had little injuries the past few games. We're finally getting ourselves together and everyone is almost healthy and everyone did their roles. Everybody stepped up. Our community and student section really showed up."

Fremd looked on the verge of pulling out a momentum-building comeback win after Kace Urlacher (13 points) scored 4 points in a row in a 10-3 run that gave the Vikings a 36-31 lead late in the third quarter.

After Nikki Gonnella and Ella Todd connected on back-to-back 3s to give the Vikings a 44-39 lead with 3:59 remaining in regulation, the Spartans reeled off a 7-1 run, punctuated by a corner 3-pointer from Feuerbach to seize a 46-45 lead at the 2:15 mark. Gonnella countered with a baseline floater to hand the Vikings a 47-46 lead with just under two minutes left to set up the final heroics by the Spartans.

"This is a big gym, road trip and a big crowd and why we came here," Fremd coach Dave Yates said. "This was a sectional environment. We wanted this environment. We didn't play our best, but we started clicking in the third quarter. Faith hit a huge three-pointer, and that changed the game a bit.

"We have to work on executing better down the stretch. We had some turnovers that hurt us. Kace played great defense and did some nice stuff on offense. We just couldn't get into a rhythm offensively, and get used to play in an environment like this."

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