By Kaleb Carter
CICERO — The Fremd Vikings — technically the defending Class 4A state champions since there were no IHSA state playoffs played last season — are rediscovering their form. That fact was on full display at the Morton College Christmas Tournament, as Maddie Fay has taken the initiative and displayed the aggressiveness her coaches have been looking for from the 6-2 junior.
Fay scored 14 points in the Vikings’ 61-41 win over Marist in the semifinals of the tournament on Wednesday. Thursday she aided in Fremd’s 46-40 comeback win over Geneva to win the Morton tournament.
“It’s my junior year, I’ve got to step it up,” Fay said in an interview Wednesday after the Marist victory. “I really want the team to win, so I’m trying my best every game to get us the win.”
FINAL - Fremd 61, Marist 41— Kaleb Carter (@Kaleb_M_Carter) December 30, 2021
Fremd’s Maddy Fay led all scorers with 14
Kira Chivers led Marist with 13 pic.twitter.com/o7a7DgzMSo
Maddy Fay gets one to go at the buzzer to give Fremd a 29-23 halftime lead over Marist. pic.twitter.com/0VypAmH5X9— Kaleb Carter (@Kaleb_M_Carter) December 30, 2021
Fay was her team’s leading scorer (20 points, 10 rebounds) in a dominant showing over Batavia, 58-32, at Morton College as well. Fay also put up 18 points and 18 rebounds against Winnebago and scored 13 in an overtime win over Montini Catholic.
Fremd coach Dave Yates has seen this coming for Fay from a mile away.
“It’s what we challenged her to do her sophomore year,” Yates said. ”We saw those glimpses her sophomore year, she wasn’t consistent and that’s what we’re challenging her with right now is her consistency, and she’s doing that now. Her efficiency out there was crazy … she gets rebounds, she gives us (multiple) interior kids.”
IUPUI commit Brianna Woolridge — who has missed some game action — pairs with Fay to give the Vikings strength and rebounding that other teams will struggle with. Her 23 points led Fremd in Thursday’s win over Geneva.
Division I recruit and freshman Ella Todd (offers from Purdue, Michigan, Pittsburgh and others) is on the mend after sustaining an ankle injury and should play before too long. Norah O’Brien should also give the Vikings another shooter when she returns from a calf injury.
Fay, a lefty who says she spent much time in the offseason working on her right hand, has stayed aggressive, just as her coaches have preached to her since last season. Taking their lumps early in the season hasn’t fazed the relatively young group. Kace Urlacher, a 6-1 junior, gives the Vikings even more size. Junior Nikki Gonnella has been a steady contributor.
“We’re on a really good roll,” Fay said. “We started out the year with a few losses, and we knew we were playing tough teams coming into this tournament so we just wanted to keep winning, especially to get in the championship game.
“We’re taking better shots now, we’re moving the ball and we just have more patience on offense,” Fay added.
Fremd (14-4 before Thursday) has losses to St. Charles East (49-44), York (48-47), Lyons Township (47-39) and Winnebago (67-60), but with improved health, the Vikings are beginning to hit their stride.
“We’ve got lots of good pieces,” Yates said. “It’s not like we’re five kids. Izzy (Zavilla, a sophomore) comes in and hits a three. (Senior) Jill Sheehan comes in and hits a three. (Junior) Sam Bonsteiner gives us energy off the bench. We’ve got lots of bodies, let alone the kid that’s one of our best players at the start of the year, Ella Todd, is sitting on the bench.”
Fay saw some action on the team that won a state title her freshman year.
“It was so fun, I got some experience my freshman year with the state team, so that’s our biggest goal,” Fay said.
Putting it all together will be the focus over the next few months and in Mid-Suburban league play.
“I’m excited for January for us to start assembling all of us together, and I think we’ve got the potential to be really good,” Yates said.
“It’s my job to figure all that out,” he noted