When Palatine and Fremd last met on the first day of February, the Pirates turned an early double-digit deficit into a key Mid-Suburban West victory.
On Wednesday night in the Class 4A Deerfield regional semifinal, it was the Vikings’ turn to flip the script.
After Roosevelt Smart, Greg Grana and Chris Macahon lit up the scoreboard for No. 10 Palatine in the first quarter, No. 7 Fremd turned up the defense in the final three quarters to overcome a 12-point deficit and win going away 52-40.
The Vikings advance to the regional final on Friday and will play No. 2 Zion-Benton, a 61-48 winner over No. 15 Deerfield.
“We just realized that for the underclassmen, it could be our last game this year and for the seniors, it could be their last high school game ever,” said Fremd guard Riley Glassmann. “We didn’t want to lose that game, especially to our rivals, so we came back out with a lot of fire.”
Fremd (19-8) needed to regroup after Smart, Grana and Macahon combined for 21 first quarter points, helping Palatine (17-13) to a 21-9 lead.
“Roosevelt hit some tough, contested shots, as we’ve seen him do before,” said Fremd coach Bob Widlowski of the first quarter. “But what I was very pleased about was our reaction to it.”
The Vikings responded by pitching a shutout in the second quarter before allowing just 7 points in the third quarter.
“We went cold,” Grana said. “There’s no other way to put it. Our shot selection wasn’t great, but credit to them. They stayed calm like we did (last time) against them.”
Sean Benka (12 points) and Xavier Williams (11 points) helped keep Fremd close, and the key adjustment was Glassmann switching over to Smart and face-guarding him after the first quarter.
“We knew that they would settle in, and it got down to them playing some pretty good defense and us unraveling on some offensive possessions,” said Palatine coach Eric Millstone.
While Glassmann (15 points) struggled offensively in the first half, shooting 1-for-7 and even missing his first three free throws, he controlled the game in the third quarter.
The junior scored on three drives to the hoop and his nifty dish to Ben Carlson with 3:12 left in the third ignited a 17-2 run that turned a tie game into a 45-30 lead with 2:35 left.
“Riley really stepped up on both ends of the floor,” Widlowski said. “He took a leadership role by example and we’ll need more of that on Friday.”
“We just played an all-around game in the second half,” Glassmann said. “We shared the ball and got a bunch of layups, fast break points and played team defense. That’s why we won.”
Smart wound up with 19 points and 8 rebounds, Grana added 11 and Josh Baldus had 10 rebounds for a Palatine squad that finished with its highest win total since 1998.
“These seniors have done a great job of putting us back on the map,” Millstone said. “It stings right now, but at some point, they’ll understand the legacy that they’ve left behind. Hopefully we’re off and running from here.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.