Prep basketball: Small-town South Sevier slays a 5A giant
See the online photo gallery of this game here.
PLAIN CITY — In his 20-some-odd years of coaching small-town basketball, coach Scott Hunt's teams have never had the opportunity to play against a big school.
So when the opportunity presented itself this summer for 2A's South Sevier to fill a hole on 5A Fremont's schedule this season, Hunt jumped at the chance.
Prior to Tuesday's game, Hunt stressed with his players what a unique opportunity they had to play a varsity basketball game against a school roughly five times its size.
The Rams definitely took advantage of the opportunity.
The defending 2A champs shot 65 percent from the field, including 85 percent in the second half, as they outscored Fremont by 17 points in the second half en route to a convincing 65-50 victory over the Silver Wolves.
"Throw your classification out the window. If you're one of the top teams, you can play with dang near anybody. This team can play. I was real impressed with their players, they're well coached," said Fremont coach Corey Melaney.
"We talked about the opportunity to represent what small-school basketball is all about and wanted to come up here and be competitive. That was our goal and I thought we did that," said Hunt.
As impressive as South Sevier was, particularly in the dominant second half, Fremont definitely didn't look anything like the team that beat former 4A No. 1 Sky View by 12 points last Friday.
Shooting 35 percent for the game, including just 19 percent in the second half, is going to happen from time to time, but Fremont's defensive effort just wasn't good enough.
"We never got stops," said Melaney. "Defensively we were bad. I think we can fix it, but we're not real good right now."
Behind a late second-quarter surge, Fremont led 28-26 at the half. Eight of Fremont's points were second-chance points, and in the second half South Sevier switched from a zone defense to a man-to-man defense primarily to cut down on the rebounding disparity. It also helped South Sevier get out on Fremont's shooters quicker.
Spreading the floor offensively late in the third quarter made a big different as well.
Trailing by about five points, Fremont had no choice but to extend and play pressure defense with the Rams spreading the floor. It led to numerous easy baskets and trips to the foul line for the Rams — who made 17-of-22 free throws to go along with 21-of-32 field goals.
"When you can do that effectively, it kind of breaks the back of the opponent 'cause you spread them out and get them chasing you and then you get a back cut and layup or you penetrate and kick for a 3-pointer. Those are momentum getters," said Hunt.
Despite falling behind by as many as 10 points late in the third and then again with five minutes remaining in the game, Fremont whittled South Sevier's lead down to 53-48 with 4:18 remaining and could've cut into the lead further had it not squandered a fast-break opportunity.
Over those last four minutes, South Sevier made 8-of-10 free throws to ice the game while the Silver Wolves missed their final six shots.