Rolling Meadows dominates Fremd in Fenton finale

Neither Rolling Meadows boys basketball coach Kevin Katovich nor his counterpart, Fremd's Bob Widlowski, wanted to talk basketball after Saturday night's Chuck Mitchell Thanksgiving tournament final at Fenton.


The health of Rolling Meadows reserve senior guard Jaxxon Handy was on each coach's mind.

Was on everybody's mind, for that matter, inside the gym in Bensenville.

Handy had suffered a gut-wrenching lower-leg injury with 4:37 left in the fourth quarter and Rolling Meadows leading 61-29. An ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later, and the Mustang - who had scored his only basket 24 seconds earlier - had to be stretchered off the court.

Both coaches agreed to end the game.

Stunned, concerned players from both sides then lined up to shake hands.

"It's a shame what happened," Katovich said. "Great kid. We're going to have to rally the guys.

"They (medical personnel) said he's going to be OK."

"I feel terrible what happened to that kid," Widlowski said. "Ending the game when we did was the right thing to do. Rolling Meadows is a class program, with a lot of class acts."

The game before the pall was all Rolling Meadows (4-0), as Katovich's crew used an impressive blend of inside muscle and outside finesse to lead 15-5 after one quarter, 34-17 at intermission and 56-27 after 24 minutes.

The Mustangs started their breathless 18-5 run in the third quarter with a trio of 3-pointers in a 2:11 span. Sophomore forward Ian Miletic (8 points, 5 rebounds) hit the first '3' ball at the 7:37 mark, followed by senior forward Tsvet Sotirov (game-highs of 15 points and 7 boards) and senior forward Mark Nikolich-Wilson (12 points).

Kaboom, kaboom, kaboom.

Meadows led 43-19, prompting Widlowski to call a timeout.

Tourney MVP and Minnesota commit Cameron Christie, Rolling Meadow's silky-smooth senior guard, poured in 14 points, including a pair buckets - separated by 21 seconds - in the final minute of the second frame.

Christie also dished an assist to Miletic (3-pointer) and to Sotirov at the end of the third quarter.

Mustangs senior forward Foster Ogbonna tallied all 6 of his points before halftime.

Fremd (3-1) got as close as 19-11, thanks to 6-2 spurt early in the second quarter.

Senior guard Ryan Sammons paced the Vikings with 7 points, followed by senior forward Mark Braun's 6. Fremd 6-foot-4 senior forward Cameron Kuhl swatted 3 shots, and all-tourney pick Ryan Cox, a 6-3 junior guard, grabbed a team-high 5 rebounds.

Fremd senior forward Caiden Suchy also earned all-tourney honors, as did Rolling Meadow's Nikolich-Wilson and Sotirov.

The teams meet again on Dec. 6, in a Mid-Suburban League crossover at Fremd.

At St. Charles East:

Benet Academy basketball coach Gene Heidkamp knew the task at hand heading into Saturday night's championship game of the St. Charles East/Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament against Proviso East.

"When you're playing against a program like Proviso East has, you're going to have to play really well to have a chance to win," said Heidkamp.

Mission accomplished.

Led by tournament Most Valuable Player Brady Kunka and all-tourney selection Brayden Fagbemi (13 points, 5 assists), the Redwings (4-0) withstood a late challenge from the Pirates (3-1) during their 68-59 title triumph in St. Charles.

Clinging to a 33-28 halftime lead, the Redwings knocked down their first 5 shots, including back-to-back 3-pointers from the corner by Kunka, to extend the margin to 45-33.

Plainfield East earned a 3rd-place finish by edging Westinghouse, 57-51.

- Craig Brueske

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