By Mike Gesler
Photos by Catalpa Photography
Grant 55 Fremont 46
Fremont came into Grant’s house tonight with one goal; take care of business. They needed a win to stay tied with Big Rapids atop the CSAA Gold conference. They also knew this was not going to be an easy task. The last time these two teams met, Grant came dangerously close to taking one away from Fremont. If it wasn’t for some heroic last minute steals by Riley Krim, Fremont would have lost to their Newaygo County rivals. But in order to secure a win tonight, Fremont needed to shut down Grant’s Carter Chase and Tyler Naffziger. In their last meeting, the Packer’s successfully kept Chase to one point, but Naffziger was able to run up 14 in the near loss.
It would be the Packer’s center, Logan Karnemaat, that would find the net first, and put Fremont on the board well into a minute of play. Grant’s Fredrick Hull answered back with three for the Tigers, but that’s about as easy as the first quarter would go for the Tigers. While Grant was getting good looks against Fremont’s zone defense, their shooters struggled to find the hoop. Couple that with Fremont’s dominance off the boards, and the first quarter could not end soon enough for the Tigers. “We started awful, awful. Couldn’t find the hoop in the first quarter at least,” stated Grant’s Coach McCorkle. With only a pair of threes by Grant to show in the first, Fremont dominated 14-6.
Grant finally settled in during the second quarter, and started chipping away at Fremont’s eight point lead. While they were still suffering at the hands of Fremont’s Karnemaat, a pair of threes by Grant’s Hull would pull the Tigers within two. A last minute run stretched the Packer’s lead back to 6 before the half buzzer sounded as both teams headed to the locker rooms with Fremont on top 27-21. “We could have been up ten to fifteen in the first quarter, and we just weren’t. We had an enormous amount of turnovers and missed shots early,” stated Fremont’s Coach Zerfas.
Just like the start of the game, it would be almost two minutes into the third before either team could find the basket. Only this time it would be Grant to strike first finding junior Patrick Lancestremere inside for two. It didn’t take long after that for Fremont’s Karnemaat to answer back and put in two of his own. With two minutes left in the third after a quick little run, Grant found themselves with the lead for the first time since Hull opened the Tiger’s scoring effort in the first. Both crowds now on their feet and electrifying Grant’s gym, the two teams found themselves in a battle to gain or regain the lead. At the end of the third, Fremont still maintained the lead only now the margin was two points 36-34.
The Packers probably wish that basketball was like hockey with only three periods of play rather than four quarters. As the lead would continue to change hands throughout the first half of the fourth, it would be a pair of threes from Grant’s Hull and Cole Chase that would give Grant a four point edge. Fremont was able to answer back until the Tigers went on a six point run before the Packers called a time out with a minute forty left on the clock.
“Same exact thing happen in the first game, and it led to us being down six with four minutes to go, I think we were tonight too, and we just made a big time comeback in that one,” Coach Zerfas expressed.
The question would be could Fremont make another comeback. They certainly had been successful at shutting down Grant’s Carter Chase and Zaffzinger throughout the night. Only this time instead of having four minutes to work with, Fremont was limited to less than two minutes. With the clock down to fifty-eight seconds, like déjà vu Fremont’s Riley Krim found himself the thief once again with an open court layup only to be fouled Cole Chase. With a chance at a one and one, Krim missed his first attempt. With the Tigers back in possession, the Packers sent Hull to the line on a one-in-one with thirty-three seconds. Hull completed both shots, and the Tigers extended their lead 51-44. The Packers weren’t quite ready to pack it in just yet. Senior Ben Schmidt would net a quick two points for the Packers, and close the gap to a manageable five points. Unfortunately, Fremont fouled Grant’s Cole Chase who got the points and was sent to the line only to miss his bonus shot. Now down to twenty seconds, Fremont struggled to find the net. To add to Fremont’s misery, Schmidt fouled Naffziger moving Grant into double bonus with eight and a half seconds left on the clock. Naffziger converted both shots, and that was too much for the Packers. Grant defended their home court with a final of 55-46.
“It was great. I was proud of the boys,” shared Coach McCorkle. “Got it together a little bit in the second half. We were missing free throws. We were missing layups. But defensively, I thought we really turned it around. Especially late third quarter when we made that run to get ahead. And the fourth quarter, Patrick played outstanding. He neutralized #50, Logan Karnemaat, really well. The guy still is still going to get his points, he’s 6’ 8”, but I thought we did a really good job. Everybody knew their assignments, and we kept attacking. Again, another night where Carter Chase had an off night. We had some other guys step up. Freddy Hull stepped up big. Cole Chase was big down the stretch with some minutes. Overall, I couldn’t be more happier for the guys. Senior night, last home game, that’s the way you want to go out.”
“Grant completely outplayed us. They were more aggressive,” lamented Coach Zerfas. “Their pressure did not allow us to get the ball down low, or their pressure got into our heads and we did not get the ball down low is a better way to put it. I mean Logan had twenty-three, and he should have had forty.
I thought that #3, Hull, was the best player on the court. He had a great game. He just played really well. His defense on the ball was very good, and we didn’t handle it well and get into our offense as well.”
While Coach McCorkle was hoping to hand a gift basket to Big Rapids, Big Rapids didn’t take care of things on their end losing to Reed City. That means both Fremont and Big Rapids remain tied atop the CSAA Gold with only one conference game left a piece. Fremont will be at home Friday against a winless Tri County, and Big Rapids will at home against the 4-9 Warriors of Chippewa Hills.
Two Tiger players saw double digits tonight. Freshman Fredrick Hull led with 20 points, and junior Patrick Lancestremere put up 12. Cole Chase and Tyler Naffziger each had six points, and Conner Vanderwilt and Carter Chase each shot four. Michael Frey also added to the Tiger’s win with three points. Grant will head north to their near north rivals in Newaygo Friday night before closing the season against Shelby in Shelby on March First.
Junior Logan Karnemaat led the Packers effort with 23 points. Ben Schmidt and Carter Moon each contributed six points. Also scoring for the Packers were Riley Krim (4), Wyatt Kaastra (3), Calvin Miller (2), and Micah Whittle (2).