Scouting the MSL girls basketball title game
What: 41st annual Mid-Suburban League girls basketball championship
Where and when: Fremd High School, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Teams: MSL East champion Rolling Meadows (23-3, 10-0) vs. MSL West champion Fremd (23-3, 10-0).
How they got here
Rolling Meadows went 10-0 in the MSL East for the second straight time, winning every game by at least 13 points (the closest game was a 58-45 win over Hersey).
Fremd went 10-0 for the third time in four years, The Vikings' 11-point win over Conant (45-34) in round two was its closest game in the West. Fremd has won 43 of its last 45 games in the MSL West.
The coachesDave Yates, in his seventh season running the Fremd program, has become the second person to coach in an MSL title game five straight years. Tom Dineen did it at Buffalo Grove from 1996 to 2000. Yates lost to Wheeling in 2010, defeated Hersey in 2011, lost to Rolling Meadows in 2012 and defeated the Mustangs in 2013.
Rolling Meadows' Ryan Kirkorsky is making his second appearance in the MSL title game in two years as the Meadows coach. Prior to that he was the varsity girls basketball coach for four seasons at Elk Grove. After falling in overtime in last year's MSL championship. Kirkorsky steered the Mustangs to the Class AA state championship game, where they lost in the last second to Marian Catholic.
Todd Hatfield was the Mustangs' coach before Kirkorsky. He took the Mustangs from 9 wins in 2009 to a then-school-record 23 in 2012 when they made their first appearance in a title game since 1994.
Previous meetingThe two teams met Dec. 3 in an MSL crossover game in Palatine. Rolling Meadows prevailed 71-68, holding off a big comeback by Fremd in the final quarter. The Mustangs led 58-43 after three quarters in that game. Scoring leaders for Rolling Meadows were Alexis Glasgow (26 points), Ashley Montanez (18), Jackie Kemph (13) and Jenny Vliet (8) while Fremd was paced by Haley Gorecki (23), Brianna Lewis (16) and Grace Tworek (10). "We'll have to defend the perimeter better than last time," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "We zoned them a lot and obviously we left Alexis (Glasgow) open too much." Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky felt his team played well. "But we didn't close out that game as well as we should have," he said. "I expect this to be a completely different game because we are both different teams than early in the season."
The players Rolling Meadows starting lineup: St. Louis recruit Jackie Kemph (5-6 senior guard), Northwestern recruit Alexis Glasgow (5-11 senior guard), St. Louis recuit Jenny Vliet (6-2 senior guard-forward), University of Indianopolis recruit Ashley Montanez (6-1 senior forward-center), Sami Kay (5-5 senior guard)
The reserves: Allie Kemph (5-6 senior guard), Katie Shewmon (5-11 senior forward), Elizabeth Vasilogambros (5-5 senior guard), Hannah Mickey (6-0 sophomore forward), Eliana Psarros (5-2 junior guard), Jamie Berry (5-5 junior guard), Nora Rasche (5-7 junior guard-forward)
Fremd starting lineup: Haley Gorecki (6-0 junior guard), Brianna Lewis (5-2 sophomore guard), Bryana Hopkins (6-2 sophomore forward), Erica Simios (6-0 senior forward), Hannah LaBarge (5-11 senior guard).
The reserves: Grace Tworek (6-2 freshman forward), Erin Lenahan (5-10 sophomore guard), Emily Bieda (5-6 junior guard), Katie Zara (5-8 junior forward), Julia Wacker (6-2 sophomore center), Carrie Happel (5-7 junior guard), Caroline Macius (5-10 junior forward) Megan Chernich 5-9 junior forward), Lauren Glaser (5-2 sophomore guard), Holly Straup (5-8 sophomore forward).
Statistically speakingFremd leaders Gorecki (23 ppg, 5.8 reb, 3.0 ast., 3.6 still), Hopkins (10 ppg, 7.2 reb, 1.7 still), Lewis (9 ppg, 3.2 ast, 1.4 still), LaBarge (5 ppg, 2.7 reb, 2.0 ast, 1.4 still), Simios (4 ppg, 2.1 reb), Tworek (4 ppg, 4.6 reb, 1.8 still), Lenahan (4 ppg, 1.7 reb), Bieda (3 ppg).
Meadows leaders are Jackie Kemph (21.9, 8-5 ast, 2.3 reb, 2.2 still), Glasgow (17.4 ppg, 5.0 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.4 still), Vliet (14.7, 9.2 reb, 2.2 ast, 1.0 ast), Montanez (5.5 ppg, 6.0 reb), Shewmon (2.6 ppg, 3.9 reb). Kay (2.6 ppg, 1.1 reb), A Kemph (1.3 ast, 2.0 reb), Vasilogambros (2.2 ppg).
Coaches' thoughts Meadows' Ryan Kirkorsky: "It's two very talented teams and we are both much better than the first time we played. There's so much talent on floor. Both teams have kids who are really difficult to guard so I'm sure there will be some points put up. To be a part of this game the last two years, I know how much both schools, teams and communities are excited about the matchup. I think the deciding factor is which team can come up with more stops at critical times. Obviously we know each other pretty well (seventh meeting in last three years). When you have this many talented kids, they're all going to make plays. So it's really a matter of staying consistently engaged on the defensive end.
Fremd's Dave Yates: "Rolling Meadows is a fantastic team and has plenty of weapons. When you take away one, there are multiple others who can beat you. Defense will be the most important part of the game. Limiting their easy scores will be key. The unique thing is that all our games with them have been excellent, going right down to the wire. It's one of the best rivalries in girls basketball, period."
Player's corner Fremd's Haley Gorecki: "I think our defense will be the big key. Rolling Meadows obviously has great shooters and players who are great at driving to the basket so we have to work hard on defense. Whatever success we can have on defense creates our offense. Obviously we would like to make it a high score for us, and keep their points low. But we are both good running teams so that will probably make it a high-scoring game again."
Rolling Meadows' Jackie Kemph: "We are really excited about the game and feel it will be a very good one. The last few years the fans have hardly been disappointed with the overtime buzzer beaters to win the game (Meadows' Alexis Glasgow in 2012 and Fremd's Brianna Lewis in 2013). Hopefully we can play good defense. We'd like to keep it low-scoring but it all depends on how the game goes."
Making their points(s)Jackie Kemph, Alexis Glasgow and Jenny Vliet of Rolling Meadows and Haley Gorecki of Fremd have combined for more than 5,800 points in their careers.
Kemph leads the pack with 2,020 while Glasgow is just 43 away from 1,500. Vliet and Gorecki are well over 1,000.
The historyFremd's 14 MSL crowns are a record. Former Hall of Fame coach Carol Plodzien was 12-for-12 in the showcase game while Yates is now 2-for-4 and his Vikings have won a record-tying five straight MSL division titles. Fremd has won 43 of its last 45 games in the division. "That's a testament to the kids in the program," Yates said. "It tells you we have had some good ones roll through. We've also done in it in years we have not returned a lot of experience from the previous season, like this one. From the first time we played Rolling Meadows, we are in a much different place mentally."
Rolling Meadows is appearing in its fifth MSL title game. The Mustangs lost to Fremd in 1975 and to Hersey in 1994. They defeated Fremd (overtime) in 2012 and lost to the Vikings (also overtime) in 2013. Kirkorsky's Mustangs are 20-0 in the East in his two seasons. "It's all about the kids," said Mustangs coach Ryan Kirkorsky "They're the ones who have gone out and taken everyone's best shots over the past three seasons (9-1 in 2012) and I couldn't be more impressed how they continue to respond."
Halftime honoreesAll-conference players will be introduced to the crowd at halftime along with the 'Players of the Year' from the MSL East and West.
-- John Leusch