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After eight minutes and 17 seconds, Friday’s Mid-Suburban West game between Palatine and visiting Fremd looked eerily similar to the team’s first meeting in November.
Fremd trailed Palatine 10-5 after shooting just 2 of 8 from the field, going 1 of 2 from the free-throw line and committing four turnovers.
But that’s where the similarities ended.
Fremd (22-7, 8-2 in the Mid-Suburban West) outscored Palatine 30-13 over the next 13:53 to build a 35-23 lead and held on to defeat the Pirates 46-35 in both team’s conference finale.
Sophomore Haley Gorecki had 18 points and six rebounds and Ashley McConnell added 15 points for Fremd, which had wrapped up the division title earlier in the week but was in no mood to lose a second time to their crosstown rivals.
“They kept on saying how it didn’t mean anything,” Gorecki said. “But you can’t come out with that attitude because a game is a game and a win is a win. We have a big game coming up Wednesday (at Rolling Meadows) and we couldn’t come out tonight with an attitude that it’s OK to lose.”
Providing the spark that got Fremd going in the second quarter was 5-foot-9 senior forward Bernie Williams, who scored on a coast-to-coast drive after collecting a rebound to give the Vikings their first lead at 11-10 with 4:24 remaining in the second quarter.
“This was my last conference game as a senior,” Williams said. “You got to leave it all on the floor. We always talk about getting 50-50 plays. You got to go hard, got to get on the ground, got to go for every loose ball. You got to get every hustle play.”
Fremd coach Dave Yates said his team thrives on the kind of hustle plays Williams provides.
“They (Palatine) kept hanging around down the stretch, but in the third and fourth quarters she (Williams) was everywhere,” he said. “She was grabbing rebounds, she was tipping balls, doing a real good job defensively showing on ball screens. She’s definitely an energy kid for us.”
Palatine got within 37-31 with 6:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Gorecki went the distance off a steal and Hannah LaBarge made two free throws with 3:39 left to push the lead back to 10.
“They (Palatine) they play good half-court defense, but we got transition points,” Yates said. “When we got transition points, it made life a lot easier. We weren’t getting those early on. It was a crawl, and we don’t want to crawl, but it was a crawl.”
The game might have crawled, but the Pirates’ offense stalled, according to Palatine coach Leslie Shock, whose team got 14 points and six rebounds from sophomore Monica Macini and 11 points from Nia Pappas.
“I think we went through an offensive lull,” she said. “Our team has been known to do that, pretty much all season long, so it’s not a surprise. Even when we were up 7-1, no lead in my mind is big enough against a team that has offensive explosion like Fremd.
“We lost a little bit of steam,” Shock added. “We also had 11 turnovers at halftime and you make mistakes against a team like Fremd and you’re going to pay for it.”