Bryce Hopkins’ dagger wins MSL title for Fremd

Fremd's Bryce Hopkins (24) kills time off the clock in the first half, Wednesday 02-20-19. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times
Fremd's Bryce Hopkins (24) kills time off the clock in the first half, Wednesday 02-20-19. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times

Bryce Hopkins’ game-winning, conference championship-winning three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left in double-overtime wasn’t a desperation heave or a split-second decision to go for the glory.

Hopkins had a plan. He took a few dribbles near half court and then attacked. The 6-5 senior faked a drive, stepped back and drained the shot.

“I knew I was going to take the last shot and I couldn’t go into it being nervous,” Hopkins said. “So I had to calm myself down a little bit and get ready.”

Hopkins’ heroics gave visiting Fremd a 75-72 win against Prospect in double-overtime in the Mid-Suburban League championship game.

“It felt good [when I shot it] and after it went in it felt even better,” Hopkins said. “I’m going to go home and take it all in. It is fresh right now but it feels good.

Hopkins, a 6-5 senior committed to the University of Chicago, finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds. He scored all seven points for the Vikings in the second overtime.

“I’m very happy for him to hit such a big shot in such an important game,” Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. “[Hopkins] creates a matchup problem because of his size. He’s so big. It would either be a make or we would go to triple overtime.”

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The first overtime faded out with Prospect failing to get a shot off on its last possession and then Fremd turning the ball over as time expired. But the end of regulation was thrilling. Prospect senior Ben Zellmer made a nearly 40-foot three-pointer just before the buzzer to tie the game.

“I’m not disappointed in the way we defended that,” Widlowski said. “The guy hit a huge shot, that was close to 40 feet and contested. I have no problem with that. We played overtime Friday to get here and double-overtime to win it. That helped us. The seniors really stayed composed. That was a heck of a game.”

The Vikings (20-4) out-rebounded Prospect 34-19, but some excellent shooting kept the Knights in the game. Jon Kreidler, a 6-4 senior, scored a game-high 26 points and was devastating shooting the ball. He was 4-for-4 from three-point range, 4-for-4 on two-point shots and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

TJ Johannesen and Zellmer each scored 12 points and senior Sam Murray added 13 points for the Knights (14-14).

Prospect jumped out to a 22-8 lead in the first quarter but only managed four points in the second quarter.

“We came out a little excited, they came out hot,” Widlowski said. “From the second quarter on we played very well. The second quarter was the difference. We started playing defense and ran some better possessions.”

Senior Dean Ganas scored 14 for Fremd and junior Kayman Hopkins had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jake Schoffstall, a rugged 5-10 senior, finished with 13 points including a crowd-shocking steal and dunk in the middle of the third quarter.

“I have great confidence in our team,” Bryce Hopkins said. “We are overlooked because of the conference we play in and we don’t have all the big name players. But we have a great team and great team chemistry. It shows in these type of games. We just have to keep this momentum going and let it flow into the playoffs.”

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