Fruitport had a crafty play drawn up during a timeout, the Trojans executed it soundly, and a converted layup would have been icing on the cake on a tremendous back-and-forth game against visiting Fremont on Friday at Fruitport High School.
Everything that seemingly was set up for a perfect ending went awry, however.
After the Packers flashed out to defend Fruitport guard Tyler Fehler at the 3-point line, fellow Trojan Aaron Veihl slipped alone into the paint, where Fehler found him for the potential go-ahead score with eight seconds left. But with the Packers’ defense crashing down, Veihl rushed the attempt and it skidded off the rim.
After the Packers’ Andrew Zimmerman missed the front-end of a 1-and-1 free throw attempt, Fruitport had one last desperation shot, and guard Caleb Cutler’s heave from half court looked good but was just wide, giving the visiting Packers a thrilling 60-59 win.
“That one play didn’t win or lose us the game,” Andree said. “I think people will look at it and say it’s on Aaron, but there’s mistakes we made defensively and there’s mistakes I made coaching. You put the loss on everybody.”
“It’s a gift,” added Fremont coach Keith Swanson. “It’s really good for our morale going forward. I feel bad for the kid who missed (the layup), but that’s the way it goes.”
Swanson, who is primarily the Packers’ junior varsity coach, was filling in for Pete Zerfas, who was forced to miss the game after receiving a double technical during the Packers’ last game on Friday against Grant.
“I’m 1-0 and I’ll think I’ll retire now,” Swanson joked.
Instead, the win snapped Fremont’s four-game losing streak and gave them momentum heading into a make-up date with league-leading Spring Lake on Monday.
“We’re two games behind Spring Lake, but we have two games against them,” Swanson said. “We feel we still control our own destiny.”
It was a bitter setback on the other end, as Andree saw his Trojans (4-7, 3-4 Lakes Eight) cough up a first-half lead that reached as high as 11. The Trojans’ speed on the offensive end exposed the Packers throughout the first half, as Fruitport used quick ball reversals and strong baseline drives to carve up Fremont’s defense. Fehler (17) and Veihl (9) had 26 of Fruitport’s 35 points at the half, and the Trojans held a seven-point lead.
To read more of this story, see today's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.