North Fremont had never won a boys basketball state title. They hadn’t made it to a title game. They hadn’t won an opening round state tournament game. This weekend, they did all of that and capped it off with a 45-37 overtime win over St. Maries in the 2A state title game.
“It’s really awesome because it is the first one ever,” said North Fremont head coach Shannon Hill. “Over 100 years in the making. A lot of good teams played at North Fremont. A lot of good athletes. We just could never get it done. So many people have put into this program. It’s not just about us. We realize that. But, we’re dang happy that we’re part of it.”
North Fremont trailed after the first quarter but held St. Maries to two points in the second quarter while scoring 14 of their own points to go up 23-13 at halftime.
In the second half, the Lumberjacks surged scoring 13 points in the third quarter then nine in the fourth while holding the Huskies to six points in each quarter. In overtime, North Fremont took over.
“I was trying to keep my composure,” Hill said. “I knew when their layup didn’t go down at the buzzer that we really needed to come out and win because that was a heartbreaker for them. It just showed the kids’ character.”
The Huskies just ran their offense despite having a slow second half in regulation.
“I said we just have to execute our offense and something will come of it and it did,” Hill said. “All year they’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do and it just happened again and it was just a blessing in our lives. I’m happy beyond words.”
After losing to Ririe four times, North Fremont wasn’t expected to win the title.
“We flew under the radar all year,” Hill said. “Nobody but us believed in us and that makes it that much sweeter.”
“Nobody expected to do anything down here, always in Ririe’s shadow,” said North Fremont’s Chris Hansen. “We are just glad to make a name for ourselves to let us know that North Fremont basketball is finally back.”
Hill knows firsthand how it feels to come up short of the title. He played basketball when he attended North Fremont.
“We had a lot of good athletes but we just couldn’t make a good team,” Hill said. “Little by little over all these years we got there. North Fremont’s always been a good wrestling school. We’ve worked hard to get to this point and we hope we can keep it going.”
Hill is also the offensive coordinator on the Huskies’ football team that was runner up this season in football and nearly all of his basketball players were on that team as well.
“I feel bad that these kids didn’t get two state championships in football and basketball,” Hill said. ”It says a lot about their character and dedication to do what they did to be the runner up in football and the state champion in basketball. Not to mention they got the scholastic award and the sportsmanship award. I’m dang happy.”
After North Fremont parted ways with coach Bryon Miller, Garrett Hawkes was considering transferring to another school. This year, he won the player of the game award with 22 points and six rebounds.
“You can’t get much better guys than these here,” Hawkes said. “We support each other. Coach shared a quote with us and said, ‘you don’t play with each other, you play for each other.’ We’re not just a team, we’re a family and brotherhood and we wouldn’t want it any different with any other boys than us right here.”
Blake Oberhansley also played well with ten points and suffocating defense.
“The hard work from my coaches, coach Jenkins, coach Hill, coach Hoggs, coach Grant and coach Jones, they worked with me countless hours and really took the time to help me and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to perform the way I did. It was all to them. They really helped me out this year and during the summer.”
North Fremont will lose several seniors to graduation this year. Garrett Hawkes, Chris Hansen, Blake Oberhansley, Peyton Litton and Bridger Lenz are all seniors.
“I’m really going to miss this senior group,” Hill said. “They mean a lot to me. Their leadership is unquestioned by anybody at that school. They’re better human beings than they are athletes. That’s what gots it done for us tonight.”
This group of athletes has put a lot of hard work into their season.
“Nobody but coaches and players understand what goes into something like this,” Hill said. “I’m so happy for them. I just spent everyday for almost six months with kids between football and basketball and I’m going to miss them. It breaks my heart.”