Fremd routs Warren to win 26th regional crown
After earning the West Division berth to the Mid-Suburban League championship game by earning a road victory at archrival Palatine a couple of weeks ago, Fremd coach Dave Yates offered up a potential postseason prospectus of his girls basketball team as it moved toward the Class 4A tournament after winning the MSL title at East Division titlist Hersey last week.
"We've been nicked up for awhile. Everybody's getting healthier from some stuff (and) that's good to see," Yates said.
"We want (to have) tests. We want to test ourselves. Every game matters (and) we're trying (our best). It's good to see our kids respond."
In order to successfully procure a regional title for a fourth straight season in which the state tournament has been held, Fremd would need to pass two tests. One, simply by making a safe one-hour trek from its campus on the south side of Palatine to Warren's Almond Road campus on the South end of Gurnee through a wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow.
That's where their second test awaited them in the form of a host Blue Devil unit that had been battle-tested throughout their season in which they had faced eight 20-win teams including fellow North Suburban Conference foes Lake Zurich, Lake Forest and Stevenson.
The top-seeded Vikings successfully did both as it put Warren's hopes for an upset and their season in a deep freeze as it chilled the eighth-seeded Blue Devils 52-19 to earn a bid to Tuesday evening's first Highland Park sectional semifinal against No. 4 seed Lake Zurich (25-7) who ended the reign of defending 4A state champion Stevenson 66-46 to win its own regional crown.
Fremd defeated the Bears in their season opener 52-44 on Nov. 14.
"I was kind of worried as the school day was ending and other (school) events were being canceled, but we just moved up (our schedule) and got our bus earlier and we were good," Fremd sophomore guard Ella Todd said after her game-high 17 points paved the way for the Vikings (30-2).
The win also marked Fremd's 26th regional title and its 10th under Yates.
In addition, it is the Vikings' third 30-win campaign in school history and first since it went 30-7 in its 4A state title season three winters ago.
After a Nari Powers field goal got Warren (12-18) on the board to tie the game at 2-2, the Blue Devils would see their next 13 attempts from the floor go unsuccessful as it finished 1-for-15 over the first 16 minutes.
Meanwhile, Fremd went on a 19-0 run that only came to an end after a pair of Shay Love charity tosses with seven ticks left in the first half that left the regional hosts trailing 21-4 at halftime.
Six-3 junior center Brynn Eshoo added 10 points for the Vikings while Powers' 9 paced Warren.
Todd and teammates look forward to Tuesday's matchup as they seek to advance past where their season ended a year ago in the round of 32.
"We got here last year, but we lost and we don't want that to happen again," Todd said. "We can beat anyone if we play our game."