For the first time in three years, Fremd will be making the trip back to Redbird Arena in Bloomington Illinois, while Maine West will be staying at home.
The Warriors incredible four year run came to an end at the hands of Fremd, who controlled the game for three quarters, and managed to hold off a furious fourth quarter comeback attempt to escape with a 57-49 win, while also avenging a 17 point loss just two weeks ago.
“The last time we played them they embarrassed us, they completely outplayed us,” said Fremd head coach Dave Yates “After watching that game, our kids basically made the comment that we had no fight, and that’s been our mantra since then. We gotta have fight and I think we showed it tonight at a lot of different times.”
“That was a different Fremd team that we played a couple of weeks ago,” added Maine West coach Kim deMarigny. She jokingly added, “I don’t know who scheduled that game but they should not do that again…That was me.”
Both Fremd and Maine West showed that fight throughout the contest, and despite Fremd dominating the game for 26 minutes, Maine West showed their championship pedigree by erasing a 16 point fourth quarter lead with a 17-2 run.
Fremd managed to hold on thanks to the play of senior guard Emily Klaczek, which included taking full advantage of a second opportunity of a free throw, after a lane violation.
Yates said: “It got a little dicey. They made a great run, they’re a great team, we didn’t think they were just going to lay down, but I thought our answer was amazing.”
“So much was going through my head,” added Klaczek. “Yates called a timeout on the play before and we are a senior/junior veteran group and we all just said keep your head up, next play.”
Fremd arrived to such a commanding lead by coming out of the gates on fire, as they accrued a 10 point lead in the first quarter thanks to reserve guard Ella Burns, who scored all eight of her points in the opening frame.
“We told the kids don’t pass up good shots. Sometimes we preach patience, but I told them we can’t keep hunting for the perfect shot, we have to find the open one and we stuck them.”
The Vikings hot shooting continued, but it was a plethora of players who chipped in a little bit at a time.
Ruthie Montella (14 points) scored seven in the frame, Klaczek got in on the action with six of her team high 16 points, in the third, all to keep Maine West an arms length away.
Yates said: “We have been very balanced all year, there has never been a kid dropping 25 and to do it with Olivia Hill fouling out, it was tough but she gets to live and play another day.”
On the other side of the court, McDonalds All-American Angela Dugalic did everything she possibly could to keep her team in the contest.
The Warriors’ all-time leading scorer poured in 26 points in her high school swan song, but Maine West just ran out of gas at the end, and Fremd free throws down the stretch ended an incredible four year run of 124 wins. A Maine West and class 4A record.
“I have a great bunch of kids, I have a great staff, they work so diligently in this program. This organization was founded correctly,” concluded deMarigny. ”I don’t do this, it’s the staff, it’s the administration, it’s the kids, it’s the parents, it’s the media, it’s hard to believe.”
Fremd will take on Lake Park at 5:30 PM at Redbird arena in the first semifinal game.