Fremd finds way to beat Jacobs, advances downstate
Fremd's Luke Schoffstall went from the bench to the free throw line -- and ended up in very exclusive spot: as a high school playoff basketball hero.
Schoffstall, who was in foul trouble early, nailed a pair of free throws with 17.2 seconds to play in overtime to lift Fremd past Jacobs 36-35 Tuesday in the Class 4A supersectional at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.
Fremd (31-0) remained unbeaten and becomes the second team in school history to go to the state finals, joining the school's 1993 squad. The Vikings next meet Whitney Young in the state semifinals Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Peoria.
"I trusted my shot," said Schoffstall, who did not have a point until overtime, when he scored all 4 of Fremd's points. "I was confident they would go in."
So was Fremd coach Bob Widlowski.
"His free throws were gigantic," Widlowski said. "I had all the confidence that he would make them."
The loss was just the second for Jacobs (30-2), which posted not only the best record in school history, but became the deepest playoff team for them as well.
"This is a phenomenal group," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "They are very special.
"Words just can't do them justice. I feel almost foolish trying to articulate anything. They are just a great group and mean a lot to our community."
With the game tied at 32 in overtime, Fremd won the opening tip. The Vikings then milked over two minutes off the clock before they missed a shot.
Jacobs, now with possession of the ball for the first time in overtime, promptly turned the ball over. That was a glaring issue for the Golden Eagles, who committed 6 turnovers in the fourth quarter, which allowed Fremd to rally from a 29-26 deficit.
"Those turnovers were it," Roberts said. "We continued to get stops. We continued to get stops. We continued to get stops. And then we didn't even get shots attempts at the other end."
After Fremd regained possession, the Vikings again ran time off the clock. Schoffstall then slipped his defender and went in for a layup to put the Vikings up 34-32 with 57 seconds left.
"We saw a few openings," Schoffstall said. "But we wanted to get the best shot we could, and I think we did in the end."
Jacobs then showed why it had won 30 games.
Taking a page out of the Fremd playbook, Jacobs burned some time before Cooper Schwartz buried a 3 from the corner with 22 seconds left to put the Golden Eagles up 35-34.
Fremd raced up court and Schoffstall drew a foul, setting up his free throws. After Schoffstall made both of his free throws, Jacobs still had an opportunity in the final 17.2 seconds.
But Fremd had other ideas.
Fremd, with 3 fouls to give, used two of them, as the clock wound down to 10.7 seconds. Jacobs then called timeout with 4.2 seconds left and came out of the timeout with a quick shot, which hit low on the rim and fell to the floor.
"I am really excited for our seniors," Widlowski said. "Our guys stayed focused and they stayed poised. We handled the ball and we executed."
Widlowski, whose team had to hold on against Conant earlier this season in a similar situation, knew that they'd be fouling down the stretch.
"We practice that," Widlowski said. "We wanted for them to run some time before the first foul. We then wanted to use all our fouls, but they shot before we could use up our last one."
The game featured a matchup between a pair of teams that had won 61 games. It also featured a pair of star players from each team, which is the main reason that there was an overflow crowd at the Sears Centre.
Neither of those top players disappointed. Fremd's Kyle Sliwa and Jacobs's Cameron Krutwig matched one another with 13 points each. Krutwig also and 18 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
The overflow crowd also had plenty to cheer about in the first half.
Jacobs took a 9-8 lead thanks to Schwartz, who scored the first 7 of the Golden Eagles' points.
Fremd, which did a nice job on Krutwig in the first half, roared back. Shaan Patel, who played bigger than his 6-foot-4 height, had a jam on one end and then blocked Krutwig from behind on a shot.
"It was a good sequence of events," said Patel, who finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. "That really seemed to get us going on offense."
Those plays helped ignite a 7-0 Fremd spurt. Elliot Kim, who spelled Schoffstall when he got into foul trouble, hit a pair of free throws and a 3 as the Vikings led 15-9 with 6:34 left in the first half.
Jacobs then began to find its stride on the offensive end. The Eagles banged off 10 unanswered points of their own. Adam Kale and Nikolas Balkcom each hitt 3s and Krutwig broke free under the basket for a pair of buckets to put Jacobs up 19-15 with 2:56 left.
Jacobs took a 21-18 lead into the locker room at the half.
Fremd jumped out quickly in the third quarter to lead 24-23 on a rebound basket by Patel.
Krutwig then took over the rest of the quarter for the Golden Eagles. He had 4 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in the quarter as Jacobs regained the lead 29-26.
"It was a battle all day long," said Fremd's Brian Dompke. "He is so so strong. I had to keep fighting to get around him."
"I couldn't be more pleased with our play and attitude out there tonight," Widlowski said. "It feels great. I guarantee that our guys will be focused on the scouting report when we get back to practice tomorrow."