Fremd earns yet another regional crown
Fremd's impressive run of eight regional titles since 2011 was put on hold last season when the state girls basketball tourney was not played due to COVID-19.
With the resumption of the state series, the 2020 state champs didn't miss a beat on Thursday night at the Class 4A Wheeling regional.
The No. 2 seeded Vikings (27-6) made it nine regional crowns in 11 seasons with a convincing 54-29 triumph over No. 10 Palatine (16-16).
Fremd advances to the 7:30 p.m. semifinal of Tuesday's Warren sectional to face the winner of Friday's 7 p.m. Grant regional title game between Hersey and Lake Zurich.
"You don't ever want to take stuff like this for granted, which sometimes you can,'' said Dave Yates, who has coached Fremd to nine of its program's 25 regionals. "I think not getting a chance to play last season left us super excited. Hopefully this means more to these kids having the chance to keep the season going. To play in a game like this is awesome so I'm happy for this group and that these kids got to experience this."
Senior Brianna Wooldridge led the way with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Maddy Fay added 9 points with 10 rebounds while Anna Schmitt tossed in 8 points with 5 steals and 3 assists.
"I'm really proud of my girls," Wooldridge said. "I'm very happy we got to add another regional to our banners. We just need to be more consistent on offense but we did a really good job with that at the end of the second half."
Freshman Ella Todd's 3-pointer less than 30 seconds into the game gave Fremd a lead it would never relinquish. Wooldridge pulled the ball away from a Pirate while going for a rebound and muscled her way up for a layup that made it 5-0. The Vikings led 12-4 when Schmitt stole the ball in the Pirates' backcourt and fired home a 15-footer as time expired in the first quarter.
"Anna is an energetic person," Yates said. " She is always flying around. And I thought Kace Urlacher (7 points) did an amazing job on Madi (Stark), who is an amazing basketball player and has had an amazing career at Palatine. I felt Kace and Ella Todd did a nice job guarding her throughout the game."
Fremd began the second period with a 6-0 run, getting another steal and layup by Schmitt, layup by Wooldridge off a Schmit assist and a driving layup by Fay for a commanding 19-4 lead at the mask break.
Fremd finished the half with an 8-1 run a to lead 27-7 at intermission.
A 3-pointer and 18-footer by Allie Henning got Palatine to within 46-27 in the third quarter before Fremd finished the game on an 8-2 run, including 2 baskets from Sam Bodensteiner and one from Isabelle Zavilla.
Stark led Palatine with 9 points while Megan VanBrunt had 6 and Henning 5.
"They've (Fremd) got a lot of weapons," said Palatine coach Bill LePage. "They have a lot of people you have to try and stop. We tried to throw everything at them but they're big inside."
"I thought we did a good job punishing them down low because that's where we have big strong kids," Yates said.
LePage added that Fremd also has great shooters.
"They're a tough matchup for a lot of people," LePage said. "There is no doubt about that. I'm proud of our girls. They had a great season and we wish the best of luck to our three seniors (Stark, Henning and Caitlin Williams). They've been great role models.
"Credit Fremd. They're a great basketball team. Best of luck to them at the sectional and Dave will do a great job."