Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Fremont 44 Grant 37
If Fremont wants the CSAA Gold Conference title, or at least a share of the title, then they cannot afford to concede a game through the remainder of the season. Tonight the Packers would travel to Grant to face a Tiger team that has displayed a never-say-die spirit, and will fight and scrape through each minute of game time. The last time these two teams faced each other back in mid-January, the Packers had no problems easily defeating the Tigers 62-29. But tonight, as Fremont’s coach, Wes Zerlaut, stated, “Paige had his kids really ready to play, and they definitely played hard.”
The first quarter would open in Grant’s favor as Kirstyn Throop pulled up to drain a three point bucket to put the Tigers on the board. But then the Packers would close ranks and frustrate Grant’s efforts for the remainder of the quarter. The Packers also had a difficult time against the aggressive play of the Tigers. While Fremont might have kept Grant to only those initial points from Throop, Grant managed to hold Fremont to only eight.
The second quarter opened with a set of fouls that sent both teams to the line before Fremont found their groove. Briana Webber hit for three and Calla Miller put up five before Grant’s Jaycee Rider found the Tigers only field goal of the quarter. The fast, physical play of Fremont exasperated much of Grant’s efforts. It appeared that Fremont would once again take an easy one from Grant as the teams headed into the locker rooms at half with the Packers up by twelve.
Adjustments were made during the half, and the Tigers certainly came out of the locker room dialed in for the second half. Like déjà vu, Grant’s Jaycee Rider hit for three to start the second half. And just like the first, Fremont then went on a six point run. But that is where the déjà vu ended, and a battle ensued with both teams digging into the trenches and refusing to concede any ground. By the time the dust settled on the third quarter, each team had six field goals. The difference was Rider’s three at the start which only allowed the Tigers to chip away at Fremont’s lead by one.
Grant’s indomitable spirit continued into the fourth as did the battle of the trenches. Both teams swapped points for points until suddenly a three point bucket from Throop followed by another from Rider with two and half minutes remaining found the Tigers within six points of tying up the game. Unfortunately for the Tigers, or fortunately for the Packers, this would be the closest Grant would come to stunning the Packers. The Tigers did everything they could within their arsenal of weapons but Fremont dodged each bullet, and escaped to continue their pursuit of a conference title.
“Really good game tonight by both teams. I thought it was a competitive, tough, physical game. Kudos to Fremont,” stated Grant’s coach, Paige Paulsen. “I was really proud of our girls for getting down, and staying with what we do and fighting back. I thought we had some chances. Some untimely turnovers took that real scare out of our hands, but we certainly didn’t give up.”
“A lot of credit to Grant,” shared Coach Zerlaut. “I thought they really played hard tonight. We obviously struggled to put the ball in the basket early, and then struggled to guard them late.”
Calla Miller had double digits for Fremont tonight with sixteen points. Natalie Jamieson shot for eight, and Briana Webber and Paige VandenBerg each had five. Chloe Shriver and Haley Zerlaut each put up four, and Kaitlynn Bennett contributed with two. The Packers will next face Tri County on Tuesday evening in Fremont.
The Tigers had two in double digits; Kirstyn Throop with fifteen and Jaycee Rider with fourteen. Also contributing was Savannah Passage putting up four, and Samantha Wolff and Ashley Longcore each with two. The Tigers will be on the road Tuesday evening facing near north rival Newaygo.