PLAIN CITY, Utah –
Small moments can define a championship season. One such moment came for Fremont (Plain City)
in its opening playoff game.
The Silver Wolves struggled to get anything going offensively for two quarters against Lehi in their Class 5A girls basketball tournament opener. When they went into the locker room at halftime, they decided right then and there they had had enough.
Lehi was going to see the true version of Fremont in the second half.
"We weren't playing as well as we could," senior point guard
said. "We all at halftime just decided we weren't done playing together and we started playing for each other."
Fremont held Lehi to just 12 second-half points to secure a 55-36 victory. The Silver Wolves followed up that triumph with three more victories – culminating with a 60-27 defeat of American Fork in the Class 5A championship game. It secured the No. 3 spot in the MaxPreps Utah Girls Basketball Computer Rankings
It marked the first time Fremont ever won a Class 5A title in girls basketball. It is also far from the end to a historic championship season.
The Silver Wolves will have a shot at proving they are one of the nation's best teams in April, as Fremont has been invited to play in the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament in New York City. The four-team, single-elimination tournament will take place over three days in the Big Apple, starting on April 3, and will be televised on ESPNU and ESPN2.
Fremont (23-2) will open the tournament facing Miami (Fla.)
. The Silver Wolves are the first Utah team to ever receive an invitation to participate in the national showcase.
"We were incredibly humbled by it," Fremont coach Lisa Dalebout said. "We feel really lucky and blessed we get to go do something like this. We're going to work really hard and prepare ourselves so when we do go to New York we'll be able to show the brand of basketball Utah can offer."
Riverton had been in the mix to receive the invitation to New York because of a high national ranking and undefeated regular season. When the top-ranked Silverwolves were upset early in the Class 5A playoffs, the spotlight shifted to the Silver Wolves from the north.
Even with everything Fremont accomplished during the season, the invitation to play in New York City caught all the players completely by surprise.
"We didn't know about it, but our coaches did," senior center
said. "They played a prank on us, actually, in the office – saying that we were losing our state championship. Then they surprised us with (the news)."
Fremont brings a team to New York that can hold its own on defense against virtually any opponent. Nothing illustrates that point better than how well it dismantled American Fork in the Class 5A title game. The Silver Wolves allowed the Cavemen to shoot just 14 percent (6 of 43) from the field. On the other end of the court, Fremont shot 48 percent (22-for-46) and had three players score in double figures.
Defensively, Fremont allowed opponents to score just 37.8 points per game all season.
"It's what we like to focus on as a team," junior guard Shelbee Molen
said. "Our defense fuels our offense. It was great to be able to come out and play such a lockdown game."
Fremont may be in unfamiliar surroundings in the Big Apple next month. Don't expect the Silver Wolves to get overwhelmed by the atmosphere. That's just not how they roll.
Dalebout said that mental toughness and playing with composure are ingrained into the team's identity. There was never a point in time this season where they faced a team that put them in awe. Fremont has played like an elite team because it prepares like an elite team.
"They take accountability and they work hard. I don't know if I've ever had a group work as hard as they do every single day," Dalebout said.
That work ethic has Fremont in a rare position to prove it is one of the nation's best. John Coon covers Utah high school sports for MaxPreps. You can email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @johncoonsports