Basketball

Little Chute keeps cool, knocks off Freedom

FREEDOM – In her pregame talk, Rachel Hermus implored her Little Chute Mustangs to believe in themselves.

Thirty-six minutes of inspired basketball later, it was clear the Mustangs hadn’t tuned out their coach.

They were believers.

Little Chute put together one of its finest games of the season and made clutch plays at crunch time to pull off a 47-44 North Eastern Conference girls’ basketball upset of Freedom on Thursday on the Irish’s home floor.

“This is how I know we can play and I’m glad we put it together for such a big game,” said Hermus.

Little Chute (7-4 overall, 6-2 league) has been a solid team, but has dropped some close games. Three of the Mustangs’ losses have been by five points or fewer and their other defeat was by seven.

“There’s been games this year where we didn’t come out and play the way we should have,” said Hermus. “Before the game, we talked about how we have to believe in how good we are. That was the big speech. And they did it.”

It was the first conference loss of the season for Freedom (10-2, 7-1), which dropped out of first place in the North Eastern Conference behind unbeaten Wrightstown (8-0). The Irish, ranked fourth among Division 3 teams in the Associated Press state poll and fifth in the wissports.net poll, struggled with turnovers and couldn’t find a rhythm all evening.

“Little Chute deserves a ton of credit,” said Freedom coach Mike Vander Loop. “They’re a nice team and they’ve had some tough losses. We knew we’d have our hands full.

“We talked before the game that our focus would be to outwork, outhustle and outexecute them. And they got the better of us in all three areas. Those are areas that have led to a lot of victories for us.”

Sophomore post player Hannah Vandenberg led the Mustangs with 14 points, while freshman guard Katherine Joten added 10, sinking a pair of 3-pointers.

Joten also had a huge defensive play at the end. With Little Chute leading by three following two clutch free throws by Olivia Hermsen with 11.1 seconds left, Freedom tried to set up a game-tying 3-point attempt. Joten was able to strip the basketball in the backcourt and come away with a game-clinching steal in the closing seconds.

“She had great hands on that one,” Hermus said. “That’s one reason why we love playing her. She does so many good things on defense. That was a clutch play. She really came through on that one.”

Vandenberg gave the Irish trouble inside the lane most of the evening and had a key basket with 1:01 left to push Little Chute’s lead to 45-41.

“This was a big one,” said Vandenberg. “We just had to relax down the stretch and not get too crazy.”

Makenna Haase, the Irish’s skilled senior post player, topped Freedom with 20 points, while Brooke Garrett added 11. The Freedom loss stopped a 10-game Irish winning streak.

“Disappointed with the loss, but we’ll get back to practice and build from this,” Vander Loop said. “But again, give Little Chute credit. They played very well.”

Little Chute…

…18

29

— 47

Freedom…

…17

27

— 44

Little Chute: Gomm 2, VandenBerg 14, Joten 10, Schumacher 5, O. Hermsen 4, Keyzers 7, Battle 2, A. Hermsen 3. Totals 16 12-20 47. Three-pointers: Joten 2, A. Hermsen. Fouls: 14.

Freedom: Garrett 11, Helms 4, Peters 2, M. Haase 20, T. Haase 5, Evers 2. Totals 16 11-17 44. Three-pointer: Garrett. Fouls: 17.

Tim Froberg: 920-993-7183 or tfroberg@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @twfroberg

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Video

See game highlights of Little Chute’s win and hear comments from the Mustangs’ Hannah Vandenberg

Little Chute players celebrate after their 47-44 victory Thursday over Freedom in a North Eastern Conference girls’ basketball game in Freedom. See more photos from the game at postcrescent.com.

Little Chute players celebrate after their 47-44 victory Thursday over Freedom in a North Eastern Conference girls’ basketball game in Freedom. See more photos from the game at postcrescent.com.