Fremd handles Conant
Matt Wingen is a Fremd senior forward who plays a lot bigger than his 6-foot-2 frame.
Not to worry.
Fremd, without a starter over 6-2 for most of the season, pushed its record to 14-10 overall and 6-3 in the Mid-Suburban West Friday night with 55-37 boys basketball win over younger, inexperienced, visiting Conant, which starts four underclassmen.
Wingen, who was perfect on Senior Night (5 of 5 for 10 points), has a pretty firm grip on how he and his teammates have fought through a bevy of injuries this season to come within a whisper of the MSL West title. And he credits all his teammates for it, not just the seniors honored Friday night.
"We've battled through some tough injuries. I'm really proud of the way our bench has played," he said, throwing some shine on the likes of burly junior Jack Walsh, the football player of renown who has subbed in nicely in the post and always knows where to be. Charlie Towns, Max Wexley and Eli Schoffstall all knew how to thread a pass to him for 3 of his 6 baskets, or half his points.
Head coach Bob Widlowski also recognized his bench, particularly Walsh, junior guard Ryan Saxe and the younger Schoffstall for their contributions Friday and all season.
"They played really well for us," he said proudly.
But it was the seniors who built the lead from the get-go. Russ Beaupre opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the right corner. Jake Schoffstall scored off a steal and again on another. And before you knew it, it was 13-4 after one quarter.
By the time the game was at intermission, Widlowski had been subbing liberally for the seniors who have given him their all, especially starting forward and high-scorer Max Wexley (13 points), Jake Schoffstall, who played impressively in his first game back from injury, and Towns, who regularly battles bigger opponents in the post. That defensive effort is key for the Vikings.
"We spend an hour on defense every day in practice," said Wingen. "We hang our hats on it," and everything else, as the Vikings made it tough to get high-percentage looks, especially in the paint, despite the lack of height.
To Wingen, it shows the Vikings have potential to go a ways in a tough playoff sectional. "I'm pretty confident in our ability going forward," he said.
Widlowski isn't looking that far ahead. Yet. "I look one at a time," said the dean of MSL coaches. And Friday night was the one. "It was a nice night for the seniors to represent themselves."
For Conant, also nursing injuries, rising junior Devon Ellis showed he'll be a forward to be reckoned with, scoring 8 points on some tough-luck but well-defended shooting inside. Youngsters Ajani Cobb, Christian Armstrong, Brandon Schroyer, Michael Sheehy, Sean Beckman and Tyler Burkland all hit 3-pointers. Along with Ellis, all are underclassmen for a team with just two seniors and looking to flip in 2020-21 this year's 4-20, 1-8 records.