Fremd boys basketball coach Bob Widlowski and Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith both characterized Saturday's nonconference game as physical, but their takes on why the Vikings were able to complete a 57-53 comeback victory differed.
Fremd (12-7) reached the bonus with 3:26 left in the third quarter and the super bonus with 3:44 left in the game. The Vikings made 8 of 9 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter, 12 of 13 in the second half and 19 of 22 overall.
Bartlett (10-9) didn't shoot a bonus free throw until Ben Tompson, playing his second game since returning from an ankle injury, split a pair with 2:03 left in the game to give the Hawks their last lead at 53-52.
Bartlett shot 4 second-half free throws and made 8 of 11 from the line in the game.
Those numbers displeased Wolfsmith, but he took particular issue with a sequence with 3:55 left that changed the game's complexion.
Bartlett had never trailed to that point and was clinging to a 49-47 lead after 6-foot-3 senior forward Ben Fisher scored 2 of his team-high 17 points on a putback with 4:50 to play.
Then came a 5-point possession for Fremd that could have been 7. Fremd junior Bryce Hopkins drove for a layup and was fouled. In the aftermath, the referee whistled Bartlett's Austin Gates for a technical foul for making contact with one of the Vikings.
Hopkins stepped to the line and sank 3 straight free throws to give Fremd its first lead, 52-49. The Vikings maintained possession after the technical free throws and got fouled again but missed both super-bonus free throws.
"Give Fremd a lot of credit. They played hard," Wolfsmith said. "Bob's always been a great coach and those kids got after it, but I thought the officials dictated this game and they shouldn't. You shouldn't see the officials. They should be there doing their jobs. These officials dictated the game. They came out in the second half calling fouls repeatedly against us, putting us in a negative scenario and then, in a crucial situation, turned the game. They turned the game around and Fremd capitalized on it."
Bartlett still had chances. It was tied 53-53 with 1:26 left when Tompson missed the front end of the bonus. Fremd senior Ryan Martin was fouled shortly thereafter and made both free throws to give the Vikings a 2-point lead with 51 seconds left. Martin scored 10 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Bartlett attempted a 3-pointer on its ensuing possession but the shot didn't fall. Martin grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made both free throws to put Fremd ahead 57-53 with 21.6 seconds left. Bartlett was unable to score on its final possession.
"No question it was a chippy game all around," Martin said, "but the ref called it one way and we capitalized on the technical."
"We kept our composure," Widlowski said. "It was a tough, physical game. I really think the key was we got some big stops at the end. They have a lot of scoring weapons. (The 5-point possession) was a big turning point in the game but we still needed to get stops after that. After all the chaos in that 30 seconds we still needed to get stops down the stretch and we did."
Schmeling finished with 16 points and 4 rebounds and Hopkins totaled 9 points for Fremd, which won its third straight.
Tomas Vikonis scored 12 points for Bartlett, which dropped its second straight after a 4-game winning streak.