Marist knocks off Fremd

Fremd girls basketball coach Dave Yates had to endure a long wait that finally ended on Saturday.

For the first time this season, the Vikings were at full strength.

In game No. 19, Yates could finally deploy his full rotation.

With the regular season nearing the final few weeks, the timing is right on schedule to allow the Vikings some time to mesh and get into rhythm in their pursuit of winning a 10th Mid-Suburban West title in the last 11 years.

Fremd showed spurts of positive moments, but struggled stringing together quality possessions, as Marist pulled out a 58-48 victory in the final game of the 30th Annual Coach Kipp's Hoopsfest at Willowbrook.

"We're hoping to now start building toward the end and get it going," Yates said. "It's time to get things going."

Junior forward Grace LaBarge paced the Vikings with 14 points and two 3-pointers, while Emily Klaczek tallied 9 points and Katie Hansen had 8 points and 9 rebounds.

The Vikings (14-5) hurt any chance for a signature nonconference victory by shooting 16-for-30 on free throws and committing 14 turnovers.

Five-foot-2 sophomore point guard Kira Chivers led the RedHawks (19-3) with a game-high 21 points. Junior guard Sydney Affolter, one of the top juniors in the Midwest, finished with 8 points and 11 rebounds.

Against Marist, the Vikings' starting five consisted of Klaczek, LaBarge, Ruthie Montella, Olivia Hill and Caroline Cochran. LaBarge said the loss will help the Vikings for the remainder of the season.

"It's great having everyone healthy," LaBarge said. "From here on out, it's playoff time. We learned how we start really matters. We need to have better starts, like we did in the third quarter. That was ideal."

Not surprisingly, the Vikings certainly weren't in sync in the first quarter, especially considering the high level of competition. They did not attempt their first shot of the game until their fourth possession - after three straight turnovers - when Cochran scored on a drive at the 5:50 mark.

"We need to be more consistent, and that's what we've been struggling with," Yates said. "We have to put together more consistent play. We showed flashes where we looked good, and then flashes where we needed to make plays. We didn't make them."

The 6-foot-3 LaBarge ignited the comeback by scoring nine straight points in a three-minute plan that ended when she left the game after picking up her second foul early in the second quarter.

"(Grace) stepped up and made plays," Yates said. "We need that from everybody."

Late in the second quarter, Yates employed a lineup with just one starter - Klaczek - for the final possessions before halftime. But the Vikings sill managed to seize a 29-25 lead at halftime following a late 3-pointer by sophomore guard Anna Schmitt.

The RedHawks, one of the top teams in the state, rebounded with an 11-1 run to start the third quarter to take a 36-30 lead with 3 minutes remaining in the fourth. The RedHawks built a 47-41 lead in the fourth, but the Vikings managed to cut the deficit to 50-46 following a 3-point play by Montella with 59.9 left in regulation. The RedHawks, led by four free throws from Chivers, sealed the victory with an 8-3 run.

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