Girls basketball: Fremd dominates on the glass to topple Batavia and advance to state

Fremd forward Urlacher snares 18 rebounds for winners

Fremd’s Ella Todd and Batavia’s Brooke Carlson chase the ball after Carlson knocked it from Todd’s grasp in the Bartlett supersectional game on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024.

BARTLETT – Dave Yates knew his team had to be better defensively if it was going to end up where it wanted to be at the end of the season.

Coming off back-to-back losses in late December in which Fremd allowed 70-plus points in each game, Yates and his girls basketball team used that as a wake-up call.

“We used that as a talking point for our team,” Yates said. “We just had to be better defensively. I think a point of emphasis was just being in the right spots and not allowing anything easy. I think if you look at that point on, we’ve been a [heck] of a defensive team.”

Fremd leaned on defense and rebounding Monday night to avenge one of those December losses to Batavia with a 65-46 victory over the Bulldogs at the Class 4A Bartlett Supersectional.

Coco Urlacher finished with a game-high 18 rebounds, helping Fremd (29-6) to a dominating effort on the glass. Urlacher single-handedly outrebounded Batavia (18-14) and the Vikings outrebounded Batavia as a team 39-14.

Batavia’s Brooke Carlson shoots around Fremd’s Ella Todd in the Bartlett supersectional game on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024.

“We knew that rebounding and defense were the most important things coming into the game tonight,” said Urlacher, who had 14 points in the win. “You can see how well we play when we rebound the way we did tonight. I just kept telling myself to get every rebound I could and, yeah, I’m glad it helped us get the win.”

Batavia trailed from start to finish Monday night but forced Fremd to take quite the punch during a third quarter that saw the Bulldogs erase a double-digit deficit and get to within one.

With much of the attention on Batavia standout guard Brooke Carlson, the Bulldogs got a big boost from Addi Lowe (15 points) and Hallie Crane (two 3-pointers in the third quarter). After scoring 39 points in the December victory over Fremd, Carlson knew much of the attention would surround her, as it has all season.

“I think you saw ‘us’ in the third quarter,” said Carlson, who finished her Batavia career with a 19-point effort. “[In] the other quarters, we just didn’t play to our full potential. I think we were a little timid, which is something that just couldn’t happen in a game like tonight.”

Batavia’s Addison Prewitt drives under the Fremd defense in the Bartlett supersectional game on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024.

After Batavia cut a 12-point Fremd lead to one at 36-35, Ellie Thompson made her biggest bucket of the game when she knocked down a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Vikings some breathing room heading to the fourth quarter.

Batavia did not make a field goal from the 3:36 mark of the third quarter until Carlson nailed her only 3-pointer of the night with 32.6 seconds left in the game. Fremd outscored Batavia 24-8 during that stretch.

“I can’t say enough about the effort and way our girls played tonight,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “I thought we played just an amazing third quarter. That was more what we look like all year. You feel good about where you are and then [Thompson] hits that 3 and you say, ‘You have to be kidding me’. I thought Fremd did a tremendous job on the boards and had us chasing a little bit. Our girls fought until the end and you can’t really ask for much more than that.”

Ellie Todd, who finished with a game-high 22 points, had the arduous task of guarding Carlson, a Colorado State commit. Todd wouldn’t take full responsibility for the defensive effort.

“I think it takes a full team effort against someone like her,” Todd said of Carlson. “I think we’ve really come together as a team these last couple of months and I think that shows so much in moments like the third quarter. We got sped up a little bit and they made us pay. I think we stayed composed. … I’m not sure how many [Brooke] had, but we got the win and that’s all that matters to us.”

Carlson finished only 5 for 17 from the field but had five steals and four rebounds.

Isabelle Zavilla (13 points) and Brynn Eshoo (11) also reached double figures for Fremd.

Fremd will take on Loyola Academy at 3:45 p.m. Friday afternoon in the 4A state semifinals in Normal. Waubonsie Valley and Nazareth square off in the day’s first semifinal.