Fremd sinks Palatine on Schoffstall's game-winner
Jake Schoffstall has his special spot on the basketball floor.
The Fremd senior went to that spot and drilled the game-winning basket with 1.4 seconds left to lift the host Vikings past crosstown rival Palatine 47-45 Wednesday in the Class 4A Fremd boys basketball regional semifinals.
"We talked about the play and I didn't know how I was going to finish it," said Schoffstall, who had 21 points. "I just kind of faded because there were three guys there."
With time running out and the game tied, Schoffstall dribbled to his spot, which is about 10 feet from the basket on the left side right on the baseline. The lefty then calmly lofted a shot over three Palatine defenders and the corner of the backboard and ball swished through the net.
"I kind of felt like I shot it behind the basket," Schoffstall said. "It felt nice. I play H.O. R. S. E with my brother Eli and that is my shot. I shoot lefty and he is right-handed and that is a tough shot to make for a righty."
Fremd (17-12), which is seeded 10th, will be looking for its fifth consecutive regional title when the Vikings host second-seeded Mundelein on Friday at 7 p.m.
"We had this situation a couple of times with Jake," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "And we talk about hitting the rim. This time he made it. It was a big shot and he has worked on it many, many times."
Both schools were well represented by loud student sections and their fan bases.
"This was a great high school basketball game in any time of the year," said Widlowski, whose team lost its previous two meetings with Palatine.
"It is just amplified by the fact that it was in playoffs with two crosstown rivals."
Fremd jumped to a 15-2 lead thanks to Schoffstall, who hit a trio of 3-pointers early on. His fourth 3-pointer, an off-balance shot that just beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter, gave the Vikings an 18-9 lead.
Palatine (18-14) refused to give in.
Led by Luke Seiffert (16 points), Julian Campbell (12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Tommy Swanson (10 points), the Pirates were able to pull even at 25-25 at the half.
Fremd jumped back ahead 31-27 on a basket by Jack Walsh. Again Palatine responded and surged ahead 39-35 on a rebound basket by Josh Rivera with 6:40 to play.
Schoffstall knocked down his fifth triple of the game with 4:24 left as Fremd rallied to lead 43-41. The Vikings stayed ahead until there were 46.5 seconds left when Campbell's free throw tied the game at 45.
Fremd, which got 11 points from Matt Wingen and 8 points from Max Wexley, held the ball. After a timeout with 15 seconds to play, Schoffstall went to work for the game-winner.
"All the credit to Schoffstall," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "Their best player made the biggest play when he needed to make it."
Millstone was proud of how his team battled Wednesday and throughout the season.
"Even when we got down big, the way we responded is who we really are," Millstone said. "This team has shown fight and character and grit all season. I think the future is bright, but right now we feel for the seniors in the room because they have done so much for the success we had this year."