The Oshkosh North boys basketball team may not match their opponents height each night, but they certainly would tell you that they make up for it with their effort.
The Spartans once again battled from a late deficit to force an overtime – their second straight game going to extra minutes – and were able to pick up a 68-65 win over Fond du Lac in a Fox Valley Association game played at North Thursday night.
“Again, our effort, attitude and toughness is really good,” North head coach Frank Schade said. “We need to clean up a few things execution-wise but they have a lot of heart and that will carry a long way. I liked how we battled back, it didn’t look good for a while there and we aren’t mistake free but if kids are giving effort and we have a great attitude, good things are going to happen.”
Despite getting 37 points from Sam Fredrickson – a 6-foot-7 junior – the Cardinals (1-3, 0-2 FVA) were still outrebounded 26-22 by the Spartans (3-1, 1-1). And although the Cards went up a quick four points in overtime, North continued to play relentless basketball and forced turnover after turnover to claw its way back into the game.
Fond du Lac took a 65-61 lead late in OT and then held on to the ball to drain the time. A Shane Wissink basket eventually cut it to 65-63 and then the Spartans tied it up after Cole Ellestad laid it in after a steal with 38 seconds left.
The Spartans’ press forced two more turnovers and Austin Trochinski was able to make 3-of-4 free throws to give North the win.
“We practiced that a lot this week, getting (Fondy) to play fast and that worked to our advantage,” said Wissink, who had a team-high 19 points. “We got back into it. I think as a team we stayed tough and stayed with it.”
Fond du Lac forced North to play man defense, and boy did that work out well. The Cardinals shot their way out of North’s zone, taking an early 25-12 lead with just four minutes left in the first half. Fondy led 29-22 at halftime.
But then North played man-to-man defense the rest of the way and although Fredrickson got his points, the Spartans forced more turnovers.
“I think they did a nice job spacing us and handling our zone,” Schade said. “You go to next thing and they played well enough to force us to do some different things. We’re ready to plan man or zone it doesn’t matter. We will throw at them whatever works.
“We gave them a little too much space (for Fredrickson), we didn’t do a good job of that. Believe me, we’ll see it an awful lot and people are going to go right at our post players and we have to take space. We need to take it first.”
The Spartans didn’t take their first lead of the game until there was 1:55 left in regulation thanks to a Wissink layup on a turnover. Matt Hickey converted on a 3-point play to make it 61-56 but then Fondy’s Drew Jorgensen hit a 3 to make it 61-59 with 35 seconds left.
Fredrickson scored 10 seconds later and North had a chance to win it – but a Wissink shot was deep.
Cole Ellestad added 12 points for North while Tyrese Haliburton and Trochinski chipped in 11. North finished 16-for-19 at the free throw line in the win.
Fond du Lac 29 36 4— 65
Oshkosh North 22 46 7 — 68
FDL — Goldstein 7, Jorgensen 8, Cole 3, Fredrickson 37, Walgenbach 8, Krzanowski. 3-pointers: 4 (Goldstein, Jorgensen 2, Cole). FTs: 3-7. Fouls: 19.
ON — Wissink 19, C. Ellestad 12, Haliburton 11, Trochinski 11, Hickey 5, Gabrilska 4, Sundstrom 4, Krumrei 2. 3-pointers: 2 (Wissink, C. Ellestad). FTs: 16-19. Fouls: 16.
Alex Wolf: (920) 426-6661; email@example.com; on Twitter @Wolfa07