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Marian Catholic’s relentless pressure finally caught up with undermanned Fremd.
The Spartans, trailing 33-32 with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter, closed the game on a 25-8 run to beat Fremd 57-41 in a quarterfinal of the Montini Christmas Tournament Thursday in Lombard.
The Spartans will play the winner of the Rolling Meadows-Zion-Benton game in a semifinal Friday at 8:15 p.m.
Six-foot-1 senior Megan Walsh led No. 2 Marian Catholic (13-0) with 20 points, including offensive rebound baskets on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter, and Ashton Millender scored 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Spartans finally shook the pesky Vikings.
“It was definitely more fun today,” Walsh said. “We were more focused. We tried to keep each other in the game. We didn’t do that yesterday. We just kind of went through the motions. Today, we really pushed ourselves.”
A short jumper by Teniya Page and two Walsh free throws with 1:04 remaining in the third quarter gave Marian Catholic the lead for good at 36-33.
“I try to do what I can for my teammates,” Walsh said. “It’s mostly getting the rebounds, getting putbacks or pushing it to ‘T’ (Page) so we can try to score offensively. Me, Kauai (Bradley) and Mel (Melanie Ransom) are our big players. We try to get as many rebounds as we can.”
Millender caught fire in the fourth quarter. Her three-pointer with 5:26 remaining extended the Spartans’ led to 49-35.
“At first, I was getting down on myself,” she said. “But then I thought about it and realized I had to keep shooting. We didn’t bring that much energy to the last game, so we had to show the coach that we can still bring that energy.
“Our defense generates our offense, so we have to bring energy on defense to make our offense work,” Millender added.
Ashley McConnell led Fremd (14-3) with 22 points. Five-foot-2 freshman Brianna Lewis had six points and Bernie Williams added five for the Vikings, who were without injured starters Haley Gorecki and Marilyn Lortz.
“Our whole goal was to hang around and we did a great job,” Fremd coach Dave Yates said. “There were three or four possessions that didn’t go our way offensively, and they made tough shots. It wasn’t like they were getting easy ones.
“They’re ranked No. 2 for a reason,” he added. “They have a lot of weapons. I remember it being 33-32 and then bllnking. The next thing I knew, we were trailing by eight points.”