Published Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:42 am
Almond’s buzzer-beater sends G.I. past Fremont

Grand Island Senior High got the ball into Pierce Almond’s hands with the game on the line.

And although that didn’t occur in conventional fashion, Almond made the most of his opportunity.

The Islander junior sank a shot from the right wing off a deflected inbounds pass with four seconds left to give Grand Island a 55-54 victory over Fremont Friday.

Grand Island inbounded the ball from the baseline just right of the basket, and the pass into post Machoul Chol instead deflected right out to Almond, who swished his shot.

"It’s not exactly how we drew it up," Almond said. "It was supposed to go into the post, but it went off his knee, I just kind of saw it coming to me, so I just shot it.

"Right when I shot it, I knew it was going in. During the game, I had a few I thought were going in but they were long. This one I felt was in."

The play came on Grand Island’s second attempt. A first inbounds pass with 7.7 seconds left was deflected out of bounds by the Tigers (2-3).

"What we wanted to do was go out top," Grand Island coach Jeff Hofeldt said. "The first time we ran it he was wide open up top. Then we had a chance to do a slip screen inside for a layup, and it didn’t work out that way.

"But Pierce is a clutch player. He loves those moments, just like (Mitchell) Hahn on the other side — two great players battling."

Fremont coach Mark Williams wasn’t left second guessing the Tigers’ defense on Almond’s game-winner.

"I wouldn’t do it different," he said. "We tried the zone early. With a one-point lead, you can’t give a layup right away, so we tried to protect the basket and then we were going to match up and go to man on the way out.

"The ball got tipped and we turned to try and find the ball. It ended up in Almond’s hands, and he buried it. Give the kid credit. He stepped up when he needed to."

Almond, who finished with 20 points, drove and converted a 3-point play to put the Islanders (2-3) up 51-50 with 2:19 to go.

Jake Morrow’s bucket with 1:35 left upped the lead to 53-50.

Hahn, who finished with a game-high 22 points, answered on the other end just 12 seconds later, and his two free throws with 11 seconds to go put Fremont ahead 54-53.

The Islanders raced upcourt, and the Tigers committed their sixth foul to set up the inbounds attempts.

"Mitchell stepped up to make two huge free throws to give us the lead," Williams said. "The one possession I wish we had back was when Almond made the 3-point play late. We only had four team fouls at that point, and we probably needed to foul away from the basket, not when he got to the basket.

"I don’t think I’d do much different. Maybe not have that ball roll right to Pierce Almond."

When the ball did deflect to Almond, Hofeldt felt good.

"Every time he shoots, I feel like it’s going in," he said. "That’s a great thing to have on a team.

"We actually have several kids like that. I feel like we have one of our better shooting teams I’ve had here."

The win is a big momentum boost for the Islanders after two straight losses by over 30 points.

"We went 1-3 at the beginning," Almond said. "We were all kind of down. We don’t want it to be like last year, so we knew we had to play this game and define our season.

"Obviously it turned out to be a great game for us. We’ll take it into (Saturday’s) game (at Lincoln High)."

Hofeldt said whether his team had won or lost, it played like he wanted.

"I think the win is important, but at the same time we know what Class A is like, and it’s a battle every single night," he said. "These kids are resilient.

"They aren’t going to give up, so another win or another loss in a close game like this, we want to be competitive. And we were tonight. So win or lose, we were happy with the way we played."

Grand Island 55, Fremont 54

FREMONT (2-3): Bristol 2-3 3-4 8, Glowacki 0-1 0-0 0, Voss 1-4 0-0 2, Mi. Hahn 7-13 6-8 22, Rector 5-8 0-0 10, Archer 0-3 0-0 0, Winters 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 1-2 0-0 3, Ma. Hahn 3-6 0-0 9. Totals 19-41 9-12 54.

GRAND ISLAND (2-3): Almond 8-18 1-1 20, Witkowski 3-9 1-2 9, Morrow 1-2 0-0 2, Chol 3-7 1-2 7, Wojtalewicz 1-2 0-0 2, Shuck 3-4 0-0 7, Biel 1-3 2-2 4, Huston 0-2 2-2 2, Uhing 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 21-49 7-9 55.

Fremont ................................ 13 17 10 14—54
Grand Island ......................... 15 11 18 11—55

3-point field goals—Fremont 7-17 (Bristol 1-2, Mi. Hahn 2-5, Archer 0-2, Winters 0-1, Williams 1-1, Ma. Hahn 3-6). Grand Island 6-17 (Almond 3-10, Shuck 1-1, Witkowski 2-5, Morrow 0-1). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Fremont 32 (Voss 12), Grand Island 21 (Biel 5). Assists—Fremont 9 (Mi. Hahn 3), Grand Island 9 (Almond 3). Turnovers–Fremont 17, Grand Island 12. Total fouls—Fremont 13, Grand Island 15.


If Class A No. 3-rated Fremont was a tired team, it didn’t show it Friday.

One day after losing a one-point game to Bishop Miege, Kan., in Kansas City, the Tigers used 27 points and 12 rebounds from Jess Shepard to top Grand Island Senior High 64-28.

Fremont coach Tony Weinandt said his team did look sluggish at times, but for the most part the Tigers (5-1) were sharp.

"At times I thought we were really good," he said. "We were in Kansas City (Thursday) playing, and we figured by the time we get back tonight, we’ll have been 14 hours in the bus in the last two days.

"At times I felt we were off a little bit, but Grand Island does a good job of making you play like that with that Princeton offense and a lot of cutters. They’re patient with the ball and do a good job of knowing where they want to go with it."

Shepard, a 6-foot-3 junior Nebraska recruit, hit a pair of 3-pointers early to help Fremont jump out to a 10-2 lead.

"We just wanted to contain her," Grand Island coach Alex Michel said. "You can’t stop a player like that. She is so good. Limiting her touches was one of our keys today, and in the first half I thought we did a really good job of limiting her touches in the lane.

"She got a few offensive rebounds here and there. She hit a few big threes, which we were willing to give up. Those were nice for that team. It gave them a boost, so credit to her for knocking down some early shots."

But the Islanders (2-3) battled back to cut it to 14-11 on Libby Norvell’s basket 20 seconds into the second quarter. Norvell led G.I. with nine points.

"We were trying to dictate tempo and make it a low-possession game," Michel said. "Our girls did a good job of that. We were getting some good looks in our offense."

Fremont took over from there, going on a 19-4 run that included scoring the final 11 points of the first half.

Fremont 64, Grand Island 28

FREMONT (5-1): Cascio Jensen 2-3 2-2 7, Meyer 1-6 0-0 3, Gdowski 1-2 0-0 2, Shepard 12-18 1-10 27, Niehaus 3-7 2-2 8, Vecera 0-0 0-0 0, Zavadil 0-1 0-0 0, Wilson 0-1 0-0 0, Sorensen 4-4 0-2 8, Beran 0-1 0-0 0, Luper 2-6 2-3 7, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, McQuiston 0-0 0-0 0, Harms 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-50 7-19 64.

GRAND ISLAND (2-3): Splattstoesser 0-9 0-0 0, Harvey 0-3 0-0 0, Lib. Norvell 3-5 3-5 9, Armstrong 2-5 4-4 8, Uhing 1-4 3-4 5, A. Richardson 2-6 0-0 4, Jacobson 1-3 0-0 2, Lin. Norvell 0-7 0-0 0, Peterson 0-0 0-0 0, K. Richardson 0-2 0-0 0, Wells 0-0 0-0 0, Wooden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-44 10-13 28.

Fremont ............................... 14 19 18 13—64
Grand Island ........................ 9 6 10 3—28

3-point field goals—Fremont 5-19 (Cascio Jensen 1-1, Zavadil 0-1, Meyer 1-5, Shepard 2-4, Luper 1-5, Niehaus 0-3), Grand Island 0-13 (Splattstoesser 0-8, Lib. Norvell 0-1, Uhing 0-1, Jacobson 0-1, Lin. Norvell 0-2). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Fremont 40 (Shepard 12), Grand Island 27 (Splattstoesser 9). Assists—Fremont 13 (Meyer 5), Grand Island 3. Turnovers—Fremont 16, Grand Island 21. Total fouls—Fremont 15, Grand Island 13. Technicals—none.

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