Coming off an important Mid-Suburban West win at home on Friday evening, Fremd faced a quick turnaround for its Saturday nonconference opponent -- 15-game winner South Elgin, in an afternoon matchup.
It also served as an opportunity to pay homage to Fremd's 11 seniors, including eight who were a part of last season's record-breaking 31-2 squad which became the only team in program history to win five championships -- MSL West, MSL, regional, sectional and supersectional -- en route to finishing fourth in last year's Class 4A state tourney.
"I'm so proud of all our seniors," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "I'm proud of their effort, their energy, their attitude, the way they come to practice every day. They're great kids."
Fremd can also be proud of the outcome Saturday, as the Vikings picked up a 62-52 decision against the visiting Storm.
"I think our growth as a team has made us battle-tested," said Fremd's Ryan Martin, one of those returning seniors whose game-high 16 points led the way. "We were able to go on a run to get the victory by playing our game."
A 14-5 run over the first 4:17 of the final quqarter erased a 37-36 deficit. Six-foot-4 junior Bryce Hopkins (15 points) got the hosts the lead for good on a layup with 6:35 remaining that made it 40-38 in favor of Fremd (14-8).
Hopkins then found junior Dean Ganas in the lane after a quick steal just seven seconds later to make it 42-38. Martin followed with a pair of lay-ups sandwiched around a David Binion free throw, and Fremd led 46-39 with 5:02 to play.
After a Kyle Sy triple brought South Elgin (15-8) within 46-42 at the 4:28 mark, Martin's third layup of the period followed by 2 of fellow senior Isaiah Turner's 12 points at the fould line left the Vikings ahead 50-42. The Storm got no closer than 6 the rest of the way.
Binion, a 6-4 senior, paced the South Elgin effort with 12 points. Getting 10 apiece were senior Noah Rohr and 6-6 junior Vincent Miszkiewicz (9 rebounds).
"I thought we played hard, but it was our lack of execution in the fourth quarter that did us in," South Elgin coach Brett Johnson said. "Fremd was able to build a lead and we couldn't get over the hump once they had that lead."
Fremd's seniors again find themselves with a chance to make history. With wins in the final two MSL West games, they'd repeat as divisional champs. That effort continues on Friday at Palatine.
"We want to make the most of this opportunity that's in front of us," Martin said. "We know it will be a playoff-type atmosphere against a very tough team."
Before they returns to Upstate Eight Valley play at Glenbard East on Friday, the Storm are home to face a second consecutive MSL West opponent Schaumburg on Tuesday night.
"They're a tough team who is better than they were last year when they beat us at the buzzer at our place," Johnson said. "We need to learn how to better execute down the stretch if we're going to a long way in the postseason."