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Slow start dooms Fremont in regional semifinal loss to surging Spring Lake squad

Spring Lake eyes first regional title since 2017 in taking on Durral Brooks-led Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

ALLENDALE — Tuesday’s Division 2 regional semifinal at Allendale High School was much like the Fremont boys basketball team’s season as a whole.

The Packers struggled through large parts of the first three quarters before rallying to play some of their best ball in the final quarter.

That’s how things played out for Fremont in a 56-42 loss to a solid and surging Spring Lake squad, ending the Packers’ season with an 11-15 record.

Spring Lake (14-12) advances to Thursday’s 7 p.m. regional final against Grand Rapids Catholic Central (19-5), which rolled past Ionia 70-38 in the first semifinal Tuesday at Allendale.

University of Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard was in attendance to watch signee Durral “Phat Phat” Brooks, who had 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. Ferris State signee Carter Meerman scored 11 points for the victorious Cougars.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Fremont won four of its last seven games of the season, including three contests last week to capture a second straight district title, but the Packers fell into a 20-3 first-quarter hole against Spring Lake. Fremont trailed 27-9 at halftime.

“We came out very flat in the first quarter on both ends,” Fremont coach Adam Bowen said. “I thought our defense and rebounding picked up after that, but we could not get any shots to fall in the first half scoring only nine points. 

“For the first time in a while, our ball movement was not good. There was too much dribbling and one-on-one basketball, which never works against good teams like that. When we did get open shots or free throws, we did not convert on those opportunities.”

Spring Lake had Fremont doubled up on the scoreboard through three quarters, 46-23, before the Packers played some of their best ball in the final frame.

Fremont turned up pressure defense and showed an urgency that had been missing for much of the first three quarters.

“We trailed by 23 points entering the fourth quarter but to our kids’ credit, we did not give up and fought back to cut the lead to 10 at one point,” Bowen said.

“It’s always disappointing when the season ends, but this group has a lot to be proud of. This postseason run has been a lot of fun, and I’m proud of the kids for all they accomplished.”

Seniors Will DeBlake and Chaz Miller led Fremont with 14 and 13 points, respectively, while senior Travis McDonald added six points off the bench.

For Spring Lake, junior Jaden Core and senior Zach Schlepp paced the squad with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Senior Karson George scored eight points for the Lakers, while senior Colin Burt added six.

Spring Lake lost four of its last five regular-season games in carrying a 10-12 record into the state tournament. The Lakers have posted four straight victories in the tourney, including a 73-61 overtime triumph over then-unbeaten and state-ranked Whitehall last Wednesday in the district semifinals at Orchard View.

Spring Lake is seeking its first regional title since 2017, when the Lakers knocked off Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 57-48.

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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