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Fremd sophomore Haley Gorecki and senior Ashley McConnell did all the heavy lifting, but it will be a shot by freshman Brianna Lewis that Vikings fans will be talking about for weeks and months and years to come.
Lewis’s three-pointer from the right of the key at the overtime buzzer led No. 23 Fremd to a stunning 66-63 victory over No. 3 Rolling Meadows in the Mid-Suburban League championship game Wednesday in Rolling Meadows.
The shot was only the second Lewis attempted in the game and accounted for the only points the 5-foot-2 freshman scored.
“I believed in my shot, and it just went in,” Lewis said. “I thought Ashley (McConnell) was going to take the shot, but then the ball came to me. We weren’t running a particularly play. It was just like out of nowhere and I just shot. I believed in my shot and it just went in.”
Fremd (23-7) would not have been in position to force overtime if not for the heroics of Gorecki and McConnell. The pair combined for all 16 points during a 16-2 that erased a 50-38 Rolling Meadows lead with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
McConnell’s three-pointer with 3:04 remaining in regulation gave Fremd its first lead of the night at 54-52.
“It’s all about teamwork,” McConnell said. “Meadows is such a great team. We knew it was going to be a tough game the whole time. We kept saying we had to stay together, get stops, push the ball. We just really wanted to win this game from last year.”
Rolling Meadows upset Fremd on the Vikings’ home floor in the MSL championship game a year ago, a fact that weighed heavily on McConnell and her teammates.
“The game ended very similarly,” she said. “But we kept saying, ‘We got this game. It’s our time.’ For us seniors, this was our last chance. It was such a great team victory. I couldn’t ask for a better team to end my senior year with.”
In overtime, Rolling Meadows (24-3) had a chance to take a one-point lead with 1:13 remaining, but Jackie Kemph was unable to complete a conventional three-point play. The Mustangs also missed the front end of two bonus opportunities in the final 1:13 of regulation.
“I don’t know what the free throw statistics were, but It was more a lot of loose balls, more boards where we could have closed the door earlier in the game,” Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky said. “Credit to Fremd. They made big plays when it counted. They deserve to win the game.
“You never know who it’s going to be,” he added. “We said talking on the bench, you give them a couple of opportunities down the stretch with their players, they’re going to make a play eventually. She hit a big shot.”
Jackie Kemph led Rolling Meadows with 18 points and eight assists. Alexis Glasgow added 15, all but three in the first half, Jenny Vliet added 13 and Morgan Keller had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Gorecki scored 26 points and added 11 rebounds to pace Fremd, which also got 23 points and eight rebounds from McConnell and seven points and five rebounds from Bernie Williams.
“We dug a couple of big holes,” Fremd coach Dave Yates said. “I said this before, we dug a 12-foot hole and brought a 13-foot ladder. We dug ourselves a big one after the first quarter, and dug another one to start to third.
“But we preached to our kids, hang around, hang around, hang around, and I think we did a good job of that,” he added. “We hit some big shots and then we made some plays. We made some pretty good plays.”
Including the biggest one from just inside 20 feet.