Fremd Rains Down on Conant

Cooper O'Kelly, Sports Editor

Coming off a tough loss against Hersey, Fremd hosted the Conant Cougars Friday night in an attempt to get back into the win column. Going into their matchup, the Vikings had a 7-2 record while Conant was only 2-7. Despite some competition, Fremd will emerge as an 8-2 team and their opponent will fall to 2-8. 

Senior guard Ryan Saxe, junior guards Chris Smyros and Eli Schoffstall, senior forward Chris Skaria, and senior forward Jack Walsh stepped onto the hardwood to start the game, looking to get it done. 

The Vikings got off to a hot start, pushing the gas pedal to the floor from the very beginning. Likewise, Schoffstall was on point, as he put in eight of the teams’ first ten points. 

When it comes to getting off to such a hot start, Schoffstall credits the mental game.

“It’s all about composure and confidence,” Schoffstall said. “If you come out ready to play, thinking that you’re gonna make the big shot then you’ll make the big shot.” 

He did just that, being one of the Vikings’ most consistent scorers all night and pumping in 21 points.

Throughout the first and second quarters, Fremd held a consistent and solid lead over Conant with strong individual performances as well as overall good team defense. Players such as sophomore forward Ryan Sammons, who tended to be a player the Vikings looked to for last second shot opportunities, as well as junior forward Archie Cox and senior forward Alec Braun were able to get in and contribute.

At the start of the third quarter, Conant began to pick up some momentum. After several three-point attempts found the bottom of the net and some Fremd turnovers were made, the Fremd lead was cut down to only two points.  At this point head coach Bob Widlowski decided to call his first timeout of the half, in order to get his guys to calm down and get back on track. Coming out of the timeout, Smyros was able to answer back for the Vikings and hit a three.

Widlowski emphasizes the importance of Fremd’s offense being able to get the momentum back on their side, as soon as possible.

 “Execution at the offensive end was key,” Widlowski said.”Our offensive execution allowed us to get some baskets to maintain our lead.” 

But the head coach also praised the team’s strong defensive efforts, and how that lead to easy scores in transition.

“[The guys] were stuck in the half court and they were very patient, [and] we got a couple stops and we were able to get up and down and get a couple baskets,” Widlowski said. Specifically, he mentioned a key Walsh lay-up that extended the lead to eight. 

While Smyros and Schoffstall lead the team in scoring with 17 and 21 points, respectively, they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the teams’ leading rebounder Walsh. The senior forward helped the two of them spread the floor, and was able to create space for them to maneuver around the court. 

Schoffstall himself was quick to credit Walsh when asked about his offensive game and successes.

“I used Walsh, the big man, a lot in the post and he was setting me ball screens so I would just go around that and use those and look for my teammates and find ways to score the basketball,” Schoffstall said.

As Fremd shots kept falling and the defense was making plays, the Vikings were able to keep the lead throughout the rest of the game and take down Conant by a score of 59-49. 

The boys travel to Schaumburg to take on the Saxons on Friday, March 5 and look to rack up another tally in the win column.