Friday, January 06, 2017 8:18 pm
Busco boys watch lead shrink, hold off Fremont
JOSH PATTERSON | For The Journal Gazette
CHURUBUSCO – It’s easy to get complacent armed with a big halftime lead. On Friday night, Churubusco showed why that’s a dangerous thing.
A 15-point lead at the break swelled to 24 before Fremont rallied nearly all the way back, with Churubusco ultimately holding on, 64-59, to hand Fremont (7-3, 4-1 Northeast Corner Conference) its first league loss.
“That’s why stretching the lead was so important,” Churubusco senior Jalen Paul said. “If we didn’t come out after half and stretch it, when they make that run, they tie it up.”
Paul played a huge role in helping to build the lead for Churubusco (6-4, 3-1), scoring 22 of his game-high 28 points in the first half.
That included an impressive shooting display from three-point range, knocking down three straight triples midway through the second quarter, the last of which coming from about 28 feet from the basket. Those points easily erased an early 12-3 Fremont edge, capping a 35-9 run for Churubusco that put the hosts up 38-21 just 93 seconds before halftime.
“He was in the zone,” Fremont coach John Wysong said. “It was high skill basketball, and he did a heck of a job.”
Nate Midtgard led three Fremont players in double figures with 15 points, but was also one of three Eagles of Steuben County to foul out of the contest. Nick Larose added 12 points and Wade Regadanz 11 for Fremont, while Dakota Barkley and Luke Foote scored 20 and 10, respectively, for Churubusco.
While Fremont did battle foul trouble as well as the large deficit, the senior-laden roster – all seven players that saw more than a minute of action were seniors – proved up to the challenge to stage a comeback.
A Paul basket with just over 6 minutes to go in the third staked Churubusco to a 51-27 advantage. But the hosts were then held without a field goal for nearly 13 minutes, and a Larose basket capped a 24-3 run to bring Fremont within 54-51.
“We were working and trying,” Fremont coach John Wysong said. “We were trying as hard as we could. I don’t know what else we could have done.”
Despite nearly losing the sizable lead, Churubusco coach Chris Paul rather pointed to the maturing nature of his team in not letting it evaporate completely.
“I’m seeing a basketball team grow up,” Coach Paul said. “I think we may look back and say, ‘This was important to us.’ To be able to get the stop when you need the stop, to knock some free throws down late, I’m proud of the way we responded.”
In the girls game, Fremont used a 16-7 second quarter advantage to take control, leading the entirety of the second half to win 45-39. Bella Dangerfield led Fremont (6-10, 2-6 NECC) with 15 points, while Cassidy Yant had a game-high 17 points for Churubusco (4-11, 1-6).
“I thought the first half was the first defensive half we played all year,” Fremont coach Neal Frantz said.