Fremd holds on to advance to title game at Wheeling
The final 48 seconds of Fremd's win over Glenbrook South Friday in the semifinals of the 41st annual Wheeling Hardwood Classic was the game in a microcosm.
Fremd led by 3 points. The Vikings not only kept the Titans away from the basket, they also defended the 3-point arc as well. Fremd allowed two shots, both of which were well beyond the arc as the Vikings held of top-seeded Glenbrook South 47-44.
The win advances Fremd (10-2) to the finals of the Hardwood Classic for the second time in the last three years. They will play undefeated Geneva in the championship game at 8:45 p.m. Saturday.
Fremd's signature defense slowed down Glenbrook South (10-3) and star guard Dom Martinelli (15 points), who is averaging nearly 25 points per game.
"We wanted to save our energy for tonight and we gave our energy tonight," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "Overall, we are pleased on how we played defense in the entire contest, especially in the final 28 seconds."
Bryce Hopkins, who played every second of his team's double overtime win Thursday and never came off the court on Friday, said that defense is always the Vikings' focus.
"My team energized me," said Hopkins, who had 13 points and 7 rebounds. "We have great team defense. We play defense as one rather than five individuals. It makes it so much easier for us and harder for Glenbrook South to score."
Fremd used an early 7-0 spurt to pull ahead 16-10 early in the second quarter. Glenbrook South was able to chip away and then tie it at 21-21 early in the third quarter.
Fremd showed some resiliency thanks to the play of Jake Schoffstall. The junior heated up in the third quarter to score 7 of his 10 points as Fremd pulled ahead 36-32 heading into the final quarter.
"I didn't really shoot the ball the first two quarters," Schoffstall said. "But I am always a threat and when the ball gets moved, it is easy to score."
It was 36-35 Fremd when Fremd put together a 9-3 run to surge ahead 45-38 with 4:01 to play.
Glenbrook South showed why it is highly touted as the Titans ran off 6 unanswered points to make it 45-44 with 1:52 to play.
Fremd then ran over a minute off the clock, and Hopkins gave the Vikings some breathing room when he canned a pair of free throws with 48 seconds to play.
"We aren't tired at all," said Dean Ganas, who finished with 7 points for Fremd. "It is four days of Christmas basketball and there is nothing better."
John Smyros also had 7 points for Fremd.