In a double overtime classic, Fremd tops Prospect for MSL title
With the clock ticking down, Fremd's Bryce Hopkins took a moment.
" I knew I was going to take the last shot, so I didn't want to go into it being nervous," said Hopkins, who was standing nonchalantly just inside the half-court line bouncing the basketball as the clock was at nine seconds and running.
"I had to calm myself down a little bit and get ready to take that last shot."
With his heartbeat well under control, Hopkins delivered a game-winning, step-back 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds to play to lift Fremd past Prospect 75-72 in double overtime of the Mid-Suburban League boys basketball championship game in Mount Prospect Wednesday.
"It felt good," said Hopkins, who scored all of Fremd's 7 points in the second overtime and finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
"It felt even better when it went in. I think I am still going to go home and take it all in. It is kind of fresh right now, but it feels good."
Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said it is a play the MSL West champion Vikings (20-4) practice all the time.
"We practice this situations quite a bit," Widlowski said. "Up, down, tied. Bryce executed that. I am very happy for him. He hit a such a big shot in such an important game. With that time and situation it was a huge shot for us."
East champ Prospect had a chance for one last heroic shot, but it was well short of the mark.
The game will go down as an instant classic and veteran MSL observers said it was one of the best title games ever.
Prospect jumped out to a huge lead thanks to the play of Jon Kreidler, who finished with 26 points. The senior, who missed the earlier meeting with Fremd, was perfect shooting, converting all 8 of his shots, including three 3-pointers. He also canned 6 free throws.
Fremd had to rally from 14 down in the second quarter to get back into the game. The Vikings were able to come back despite having starting point guard John Smyros on the bench with an injured ankle.
Undaunted, Fremd pushed back behind a solid group that won the MSL West title in overtime last Friday. Hopkins, along with his brother Kayman who would finish with 14 points and 12 rebounds, Dean Ganas (14 points), Jake Schoffstall, who would finish with 13 points including a dunk, and Tim Carlisle (8 points) all had a hand in Wednesday's win.
Fremd appeared to be in control with 14.2 seconds left in regulation and leading 56-52.
Prospect (14-14) still had plenty left in the tank.
The Knights closed to 56-54 on a pair of free throws by Sam Murray. After Fremd converted 1 of 2 free throws, the Knights had their own miracle shot. Ben Zellmer drained a 35-foot shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 57.
In the first overtime, both teams had their opportunities. There were six lead changes and three ties in that four-minute period as Ganas was able to tie the game at 68 on a 3-point play with 14.1 seconds left.
Prospect held the ball for a final shot, but turned it over with two seconds left. Fremd was never able to get a shot as the ball was knocked away, forcing the second overtime.
There the pace slowed with the game tied twice more until the final shot by Bryce Hopkins.
Widlowski and Fremd have won the MSL title twice in the last three years.
"We went overtime to get here and double overtime to win it," Widlowski said. "I really think that helped us. The seniors stayed so composed."
Prospect, which got 13 points from Murray, 12 points each from TJ Johannesen and Zellmer and 7 points from Ben Miller, battled all the way through.
"I am at a loss for words," Prospect coach John Camaradella said. "This senior group maximized their talent. They have got every ounce out of their natural given abilities. And so close tonight. The game was lost, then it was won, then it was lost. When you get Fremd and Prospect together you often times get these games."