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Fremd’s Haley Gorecki shakes off illness, Joliet Catholic

If Haley Gorecki’s parents had their way, the Fremd guard would not have played Saturday against Joliet Catholic at the Chi-Town Showdown hosted by Young.

“My parents are just being parents,” said Gorecki, who was battling early flu symptoms. “They said they didn’t want me to play. I took medicine before, so I’m sure that helped. I just feel weak, but you have to play over that.

“It’s always fun coming to this tournament. You know you’re going to play a good team. So I really wanted to play.”

Even at less than 100 percent, Gorecki was too much for Joliet Catholic to handle. The 6-foot Duke recruit scored 31 points and added nine rebounds, five assists and three steals to lead the Vikings to a 60-56 victory.

Gorecki scored 10 of her points in the fourth quarter, including a coast-to-coast bucket that gave Fremd (10-1) a 54-45 lead with 5:19 remaining.

“Gorecki’s a helluva player,” Joliet Catholic coach Kenny Battle said. “You have to bring your lunch pail every night because she’s going to bring it. She’s an aggressive player, she never gives up and she works her tail off. She’s going to be a heckuva collegiate player.”

Joliet Catholic (5-4), which expects to get junior guard Nicole Ekhomu back next week, overcame a 22-16 deficit early in the second quarter to take a 27-25 lead with 4:47 remaining in the half on the third of Kennedy Weigt’s 3-pointers.

But Gorecki scored six unanswered points as the Vikings closed the second quarter on a 10-2 run.

“We have to defend better,” Fremd coach Dave Yates said. “We talk about making our defense pretty simple – keep people in front of you – and I thought we struggled a lot at times. There was no reason for that to happen. We have to be a little more focused and dialed in.

“I thought in the second half we played some pretty good defense, but it was too sporadic. We jumped out, got the lead, controlled it, then we just could not put together two more stops where now it would be an 11-, 12-point game. Instead it’s a 3-point game.”

Joliet Catholic closed to within 56-54 on Ty Battle’s conventional three-point play with 1:58 remaining. But two free throws by Brianna Lewis and two more by Gorecki gave the Vikings a 60-54 cushion.

Lewis and Bryana Hopkins (six rebounds) added 10 points each for Fremd. Ty Battle led Joliet Catholic with 15 points and Jnaya Walker added 12.

“We had opportunities,” Kenny Battle said. “We had opportunities to win every game we’ve played this year. We’re playing well enough, but we’re losing games that we can easily win.”