SHENANDOAH - Riverside pulled away late in its Class 1A, District 15 championship game with Fremont-Mills to secure a 44-41 victory and the school’s first district title in nearly two decades.
The loss ends the Knights season at 11-11.
Through three quarters, the Knights played a back-and-fourth game with the 16-8 Bulldogs. After Riverside took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter, Fremont-Mills would battle back to tie the game but they would never regain the lead.
Nate Meier scored 21 points to lead the Knights. A.J. Scarborough added 12.
Ricky Williams led the Bulldogs with 16 points and Brady Ryan chipped in 12 points.
Riverside went on to fall to Exira 42-37 in Saturday’s substate final.
SIDNEY - After an 0-2 regular season record against Sidney, the Fremont-Mills boys basketball team apparently saved its best for last. The Knights hit 8-of-13 free throws over the final six minutes of the game and 10 points from Nate Meier in the final quarter to stave off a Cowboy rally in a 47-42 Class 1A, District 15 semifinal victory last Tuesday.
“We knew going in this was going to be a nail-biter, because we’ve been right there with them the last two games and we just made some mistakes along the way, made some turnovers and some missed opportunities that left points on the floor where we didn’t finish plays,” said Fremont-Mills coach Matt Thompson, whose team lost a pair of regular season contests to the Cowboys 53-52 and 62-54. “I thought we did a better job coming out tonight, especially in the second half, of finishing those plays.”
In the first half, Sidney led 8-2 early as the Knights couldn’t get out of their own way on defense. The Cowboys were already into the bonus with just under five minutes gone in the game thanks to seven quick Knights fouls.
But Fremont-Mills – and the whistles – would settle. A Joey Carlson jumper right before the end of the first frame tied the game at 12-12. His three-pointer from the right corner put the Knights ahead for the first time at 15-12 with 6:22 to go before halftime. A layup by Meier would put Fremont-Mills ahead 19-12 but the Cowboys would surge back, trailing 22-20 at the half.
A pair of Knight buckets to open the third quarter put lead back to 26-20 with 5:41 to go. But, once again, the Cowboys wouldn’t go away. Noah McKeever’s layup capped an 10-2 run to put Sidney up 30-28 heading into the final frame.
Down for the first time since midway through the first quarter, the Knights came out hot to open the fourth. Back-to-back three’s by A.J. Scarborough and Nick Williams and a steal and layup by Nate Meier completed an 8-0 run top put F-M out in front 36-30. The Knights would never again relinquish the lead, but not because of the Cowboys lack of trying.
“We knew they wouldn’t go away once we got up,” said Thompson. “Coach (Kent) Larsen does such a good job of time management in games and stretching games out. He definitely had a scouting report and knew who to foul. We expected this kind of game.”
The Cowboys sent the Knights to the line 13 times over the final 4:15. Sidney managed to cut the Knights’ lead to 43-40 on a pair of free throws by Casey Cruickshank but could get no closer. Fremont-Mills hit eight of their chances at the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the win.
“That’s actually a little better than we shot them so that was big,” said Thompson. “The kids stepped up. A.J. (Scarborough) hit two big ones and Nate hit a couple big ones.”
Meier, 6-for-6 at the line in the final quarter, scored 10 of his game high points in the fourth.
“Nate will really make some plays for us. When he’s under control he does a great job for us,” said Thompson.
Thompson paused to think when asked if this was the most physical game his team has played this year. The two teams combined for 41 fouls and 49 free throws attempts.
“Yeah, it probably was,” said the coach. “That’s something I was happy about with the kids. It got a little rough there every one in awhile and we did a good job of keeping our composure.”
Scarborough added 11 for Fremont-Mills. Williams and Carlson chipped in with six points each.
Cruickshank led Sidney with 11 points.