Kyle Sliwa’s four-point play beats Conant, keeps Fremd unbeaten

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Conant’s Daniel Ranallo (1) applies pressure on Kyle Sliwa (4) of Fremd. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

The past week has been very rough on the area’s handful of undefeated teams. First Jacobs lost to Prairie Ridge, then Brother Rice knocked off Marist. Bogan shocked top-ranked Simeon on Thursday.

With 26 seconds to play in Palatine on Friday it appeared that No. 7 Fremd would be the next team to have its magical season spoiled by a rival. No. 15 Conant led by three points after Ryan Davis made two free throws.

But Kyle Sliwa, the Vikings’ leader, found a way to extend Fremd’s winning streak to 17. Sliwa used a shot fake and step back to get free and drain a three-pointer with 12 seconds to play. He was fouled and made the free throw to give the Vikings a 42-41 win against Conant.

“I’ve never really used [that move] in a game,” Sliwa said. “They were closing out hard on me after I hit a few. Once I saw [the defender] jump I knew I was going to shoot it. Even though I missed a few earlier in the game my teammates kept telling me to shoot it. I knew I was going to hit the next one.”

Fremd (17-0, 6-0 Mid-Suburban West) appeared to know a foul was called immediately, but Conant (15-4, 4-2) didn’t realize until several seconds later.

“There were some things going on out there that were beyond our control,” Conant coach Tom McCormack said. “We controlled what we could control, that’s all I’ll have to say about that.”

Senior Jimmy Sotos had two shots to try and win it after the four-point play. He missed a mid-range jumper with four seconds left and then an unlikely, off-balance three-pointer just before the buzzer. Sotos finished with two points, he was 1-for-11 from the field.

“Everyone will focus on Kyle’s big shot and we are happy that Kyle hit that shot but Ryan Martin and Shaan Patel did a fantastic job on Sotos,” Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said.

The Cougars have a major size advantage on Fremd. They out-rebounded the Vikings 25-12. But Fremd’s ball movement and incredible possession skills made up for it. The Vikings only committed six turnovers, just one in the second half.

“We just hung around, we stayed close,” Widlowski said. “We had to limit our turnovers. It was a very exciting come from behind win for us.”

Sliwa led the Vikings with 15 points and Luke Schoffstall scored 11.

Shaan Patel is one of the under-appreciated keys to Fremd’s success. The 6-4 senior is comfortable handling the ball and effective on the perimeter and in the post. He was the only Viking capable of slowing down Conant’s bigs, 6-9 Ryan Davis (13 points, 11 rebounds) and 6-9 Michael Downing (15 points, four rebounds).

“It’s a battle,” Patel said. “I had to fight hard against both of them. I’ve been playing point guard since sophomore year. Now I’m a stretch four to help our team win.”

Fremd beat Conant earlier in the year. This win makes the Vikings the leader for the top seed in the Elk Grove sectional.

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