Three of the usual suspects have advanced to the Class 4A State Finals in Peoria this weekend. Then there is Fremd. The Vikings are 31-0, don’t have a Division I college prospect and play a very disciplined, patient style of basketball.
Fremd’s seniors have been playing together since fourth grade. They are program guys, but don’t underestimate them.
“It’s a rare group, it has been a rare set of circumstances,” Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. “Our senior leadership has allowed us to battle through these games.”
Palatine showed up in force at the Sears Centre Supersectional on Tuesday, with somewhere between five and seven thousand fans in attendance. The Vikings aren’t especially great shooters and don’t dunk the ball, but it hard not to admire their chemistry and dogged persistence.
“They are very quiet kids, not boastful,” Widlowski said. “They have an inner confidence they have built through their work ethic. They get along well together and are friends off the floor. It’s rare.”
Kyle Sliwa is the star, he’s an unassuming, quick player that has hit five or six game-winners for Fremd. Shaan Patel, a 6-4 senior, is smart and versatile. He’s effective inside or outside. Point guard Luke Schofstall is solid and confident. Forward Brian Dompke did an excellent job on Jacobs big man Cameron Krutwig in the supersectional win. Junior Ryan Martin rounds out the starting five.
The No. 6 Vikings face a massive step up in quality in the Class 4A State Semifinals on Friday against No. 5 Young. Lucas Williamson, Javon Freeman and Justin Boyd have all stepped up to lead the Dolphins (25-7) at various points this season.
“Fremd isn’t 31-0 for nothing,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “It’s going to be a game of different styles. They want to play incredibly methodically and we want to play at a faster pace.”
CLASS 4A: No. 1 Simeon (29-3) vs. No. 2 Bolingbrook (29-1)
There will be high-level talent all over the floor. The Raiders play at a blistering pace and punish opponents with big runs. Nebraska-bound guard Nana Akenten is a problem out on the perimeter and Malik Binns can be dominant in the post. Bolingbrook’s young backcourt of Kaleb Thornton and Joseph Yesufu has been the key to the postseason run.
“[Yesufu] is explosive,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “Quick is probably an understatement. His decision making has improved so much from the beginning of the season to now.”
The Wolverines will be the smaller team and Bolingbrook can match their quickness. But Simeon has the state tournament, big-game experience and is playing better than anyone in the state right now. Evan Gilyard seems to step up late when it matter, so watch the UTEP-bound guard in the fourth quarter.
CLASS 3A : No. 7 Fenwick (29-4) vs. Bloomington (26-4)
The Friars have two rock-solid seniors, Jamal Nixon and Jacob Keller, and DJ Steward, one of the state’s most promising freshmen. They are comfortable playing fast or slow, which should give them an advantage this weekend.
The Purple Raiders haven’t done so well against Chicago-area teams, losing to Benet, Curie and Wheaton-Warrenville South. Chris Payton, a 6-6 sophomore, is one of the state’s electric talents.
CLASS 3A: No. 3 Morgan Park (24-6) vs. Lanphier (28-3)
The Mustangs are good enough to win Class 4A and are the heavy Class 3A favorites this weekend. Junior point guard Ayo Dosunmu can control a game and coach Nick Irvin has several different options in the post, including Lenell Henry, Melo Burrell and Tamell Pearson.
Lanphier has three All-State candidates in junior Cardell McGee, senior Yaakema Rose and senior Aundrae Williams. Lions coach Blake Turner plans to make it a track meet with the Mustangs, which is dangerous.
“We are a team that likes to get up and down the floor,” Turner said. “I don’t think my kids will back down from the challenge of Morgan Park.”Tags: Fremd