TABOR - The year was 1967.
It was the “Summer of Love,” “To Sir With Love” by Lulu was on top of the pop charts and “Bonanza” was the top rated TV show.
It also happens to be the same year the Fremont-Mills girls basketball team last played in the Corner Conference Tournament title game.
More than four decades after playing for their last conference title, point guard Macy Williams hit two free throws with 5.7 seconds left to secure the Knights their first ever Corner Conference tournament championship with a 39-38 victory over previously unbeaten and No. 3 ranked Stanton in front of a capacity crowd at Tabor’s Lied Gymnasium.
“That was a hard fought game on both sides,” Fremont-Mills coach Rod Williams said after the game.
The Knights, who lost an early January match-up to the Viqueens 55-52, came out determined to win this game with its defense. Coach Williams answer was to slow Stanton’s top two scoring threats: Sara Sederberg and Carmen Subbert. The Knights opened the game in a triangle-and-two defense that had their defense matched up man-to-man on Subbert and Sederberg and front court playing a 1-2 zone.
The defense worked early as the Viqueens struggled to adjust to the Knights’ pressure and switching on ball screens.
“We’ve done it a couple times before against some other teams and we were very successful with it,” Coach Williams said. “We rotate the triangle a little bit different. We figured we had the personnel to do it. We almost stayed in it too long. Bobby Knight always said, ‘The triangle and two is great when you get in it but you have to know when to get out of it.’”
After trading the lead a half dozen times and the Knights taking a four point lead on three different occasions in the first half, Fremont-Mills led 21-19 at halftime.
The Knights came out in a 1-2-2 zone in the second half and again Stanton seemed to struggle in adjusting to the pressure. A pair of turnovers led to three free throws by Taryn Williams and Ashley McClary and a Taryn Williams three-pointer in which she was fouled on, led to an 8-3 run that appeared to put the Knights in command with five minutes to go in the third quarter.
But Stanton wouldn’t go away so easily.
A three pointer by Sederberg and a steal leading to a Macy Elwood runner knotted the score at 29-29 with 1:51 to go in the frame. Three Knight turnovers in the final :58 led to a 4-0 Viqueen run to close the quarter. Stanton led 33-29 heading into the final frame.
The teams traded baskets to open the fourth before Taryn Williams connected on her third three pointer of the game to tie it once again at 35-35 with 3:41 to go. A minute later Macy Williams’ lay up gave the Knights lead back at 37-35.
The score would remain that way as the Knights attempts to run out the clock but a jump ball gave Stanton the ball back on the alternating possession. After running off more than 30 seconds of clock, Sederberg found Moriah Kammerer alone on the wing and the senior drained a three pointer and was fouled on the play. Kammerer missed the free throw but Stanton had the lead at 38-37 with 19.2 seconds to go.
Following a timeout, the Knights’ game plan was simple: let Macy Williams drive for the game-winning layup or dish for a teammate. Macy chose the former and the junior dribbled through two defenders for a sweeping layup that just clanged off but the resulting foul put her at the line.
So confident was Coach Williams that Macy would hit the game-winning free throw after knocking down her first shot, he did the usual by calling a timeout between Macy’s two free throws.
“I had all the confidence in the world. There was no doubt in my mind she was going to make the second one,” Coach Williams said. “We called the timeout because they only had four team fouls and it was very loud and I wanted us to following them twice to run out the clock after she made it.”
The Knights turned out not to t need the fouls as Stanton turned the ball over on the ensuing throw in.
Macy Williams finished with 13 points, more than five points below her average but the guard played all 32 minutes and helped key a defensive effort that limit the Viqueens’ Sederberg and Subbert to a combined 20 points. The pair had entered averaging a combined 33 points per game.
Taryn Williams led all scorers with 15 points. Andrea McClary scored four points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
Stanton finished with a season-low in points and shot a season-worst 32 percent from the field. The Viqueens had entered averaging better than 60 points per game in a 15-0 start.
Coach Williams said this conference title is great for his team and the school but it’s just one goal he thinks his team is capable of accomplishing this season.
“We were not playing, earlier in the year, the way I expected us to be playing,” Coach Williams said, adding a team meeting in December helped set the stage for the Knights’ current play. “I just told them, we’re not the team we can be. And from then on, we’ve been clicking.
“We lost to Stanton before but we didn’t miss a step. All these girls said ‘We’ll get them next time.’ The last time I saw a look in kids’ eyes like that it was 2011 when we won a state football title. I’m not saying we’re going to win state but we’re going the right way.”
Heartland Christian 29
The Fremont-Mills’ defense limited Heartland Christian to a season-low in points in a 56-29 the semifinals of the Corner Conference tournament last Wednesday.
The Knights (12-2) held Eagles’ leading scorers Steffi and Molly Cunard, who entered averaging 22.9 and 22.1 points per game each, respectively, to just 23 combined points in the win. Fremont-Mills led 31-12 at halftime.
“We started fast and played very good defense,” said Fremont-Mills coach Rod Williams. “The Cunards did not get to many open looks.”
Macy Williams led the Knights with 21 points, eight assists and four steals. Taryn Hansen added 15 points and six rebounds while Andrea McClary chipped in 14 points and four rebounds.
Steffi Cunard led Heartland Christian with 13 points.
Taryn Williams and Macy Williams combined for 40 points and Fremont-Mills sprinted out to a 28-6 first-quarter lead to advance to the Corner Conference Tournament semifinals with a 73-25 victory over Essex in Monday.
“We got out fast and took the wind out of them and they could never recover,” said Fremont-Mills coach Rod Williams. "We played well.”
With 20 points Monday Macy Williams passed her sister Chelsey as the Knights’ all-time leading scorers with 1,025 points. Macy also dished out eight assists. Taryn Williams added 20 of her own in the rout.
Taryn Hansen and Jenna Nelson added eight and Andrea McClary seven as eight different Knight scored at least three points.
Reagan Burns led Essex with nine points.