Sizable Fremont Has Big-Time Aspirations

December 5, 2018

By Tom Kendra
Special for Second Half

Fremont is synonymous with babies, as the founding home of Gerber Products and host of the National Baby Food Festival each July.

Some of those babies grow up to be giants – as evidenced by this year’s Fremont Packers boys basketball team.

Senior Logan Karnemaat (6-foot-10) and junior Tristan Campbell (6-8) are the twin towers whose presence sets the tone on both ends of the court for the Packers, who are off to a 2-0 start and have high hopes for the rest of the season.

“I guess you could say we ate all of our baby food, and someone must have put some Miracle-Gro in there, too,” Karnemaat said with a laugh.

Karnemaat knows all about fertilizer as a third-generation farmer. He spends much of his time when he’s not in school or playing basketball working on his family’s 3,000-acre farm operation, which includes crops and livestock.

His life goal has always been to get a business degree and return to run the family farm, with playing basketball almost an afterthought.

When pressed on the subject, he said that both Grace Christian and Calvin College in Grand Rapids have shown interest in him, then quickly added: “There are two more I can’t think of off the top of my head.”

Karnemaat is clearly more focused on making the most out of his senior basketball season, which shows signs of great promise after an impressive 45-35 win Tuesday night at Ludington, which made it all the way to the MHSAA Class B Final in 2017.

 “I’d say that was our biggest road win in 10-12 years,” said Fremont coach Peter Zerfas, who is now in his 19th year. “It was how we did it. Ludington is a very good team, but we came out with confidence and we were the more aggressive team.”

The scorebook does not tell the true story of the game, as Campbell scored only seven points and Karnemaat just five. The real story was the rebounding and shot-blocking of the twin towers – Karnemaat finished with 10 rebounds and Campbell had five blocked shots, with both of them altering and contesting countless others.

As a result of their presence, Ludington suffered through one of its worst offensive nights in recent memory, scoring just 18 total points over the first three quarters. Senior standout Josh Laman, who nailed the memorable 3-pointer in the Class B Semifinals two seasons ago to send the Orioles to the championship game, had no field goals in the first half and just 10 total points.

Fremont senior forwards Calvin Miller (11 points) and Julian Echavarria, who also have good size at 6-5 and 6-3, respectively, also contributed on both ends of the court.

Zerfas said the key to the big win was the play of his young guards, particularly junior starters Carter Moon (13 points) and Jaxx Miller, who held up under Ludington’s relentless full-court pressure during the second half.

“We have four young guards, and how well they develop will be the key for us this season,” said Zerfas, whose youngest son, sophomore Joshua Zerfas, is one of those young backcourt players. “We have the size and we have some depth, so if those guards keep coming like they are, we have a chance to be really good.”

Zerfas has the Packers competing at a championship level after back-to-back down years in 2015-16 (6-16) and 2016-17 (13-8). Basketball is a big deal in this small town, which has had some great runs in cross country but for the most part is known for baby food, farming and hoops.

Fremont has won a pack of conference and District championships, but Regionals has generally been the end of the road. In fact, the last time Fremont won a Regional championship was 1956, before losing to Stephenson that winter in the Class B Quarterfinals.

Shortly after Zerfas took over as coach in 2000, Fremont had a string of five consecutive District titles, with longtime nemesis Muskegon Heights ending the Packers’ run at the regional level in four of those five years.

Fremont fought its way back to Regionals last winter, before being humbled by Grand Rapids South Christian and finishing with a 17-7 record.

The Packers feel like they have even more pieces in place this winter and are eager to start work towards their first goal, a Central States Activities Association Gold championship, when they open league play Friday night at Reed City.

Karnemaat, who led Fremont with 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots per game last season, can’t wait for back-to-back home games next week against Montague and Sparta.

While he spends much of his time working in relative solitude on the family farm, there’s nothing he enjoys more than the contrast of playing basketball in front of a rowdy home crowd.

“Our students and our community come out and supports us, and it really helps,” Karnemaat said. “We have a good team, but then to have 2,000 fans behind you and get you going, I love it.”

Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at kendra.tom@gmail.com with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Fremont 6-10 senior center Logan Karnemaat holds the ball up high, well out of the reach of two Shelby defenders, during a 75-50 season-opening win Nov. 27. (Middle) Fremont sophomore Braiden McDonald, one of the contributors off the Packers' deep bench, drives to the basket. (Photos by Russell Tindall.)

Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 9

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 6, 2023

We are down to the final four weeks of this MHSAA boys basketball season – and while the entertaining part is detailed below in our regular Monday report, there’s some major data crunching underway behind the scenes as well.

MI Student Aid

Seeding the top two teams in every District requires thousands of data points – and a season-long process of collecting them all. More than 720 varsity teams are playing this winter, and we’re in the midst of a process of checking their schedules one by one – about a 24-hour task by itself to make sure all scheduled games are showing, league standings are set up correctly, etc.

Additionally, daily we’re sorting through disputed scores, changes to schedules because of weather or teams that have discontinued their seasons, and other adjustments. But we’re always striving for perfection – and when Districts are drawn and those top teams seeded Feb. 26, we hope to have every schedule up to date and every score filled in.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. North Farmington 68, Muskegon 55 These two have lived at or near the top of Division 1 MPR all season, making this win by the Raiders (12-1) at the 2K23 Showcase at Aquinas College arguably their best, especially considering it also was the first loss for the Big Reds (13-1). 

2. Saline 57, Ann Arbor Huron 47 The Hornets (11-4) saw an eight-game winning streak end three days later, but in this one handed Huron (13-1) its lone defeat of the season. 

3. Ann Arbor Huron 67, Benton Harbor 55 The River Rats, meanwhile, rebounded immediately with a 13-point win over Dexter and then a 67-55 victory over Benton Harbor (13-3) at Aquinas. 

4. Warren Lincoln 52, Grand Rapids Northview 37 The Abes (12-3) just keep impressing, this time with a big win over a Northview team matching their 12-3 record, also during the 2K23 Showcase. 

5. Iron Mountain 64, Powers North Central 58 This matched arguably the best in the Upper Peninsula in Divisions 3 and 4, respectively, with the Mountaineers moving to 13-1 and the Jets to 11-2.

A Montabella player gets to the basket during his team's 43-28 win last week over Carson City-Crystal.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:

DIVISION 1

Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) The Cubs have won outright or shared the last two Detroit Catholic League Central championships, and they’re hoping to run that streak to three by winning Friday’s rematch with first-place Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1). A 68-53 defeat to the Warriors on Jan. 24 and a 67-64 loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Jan. 6 have left Jesuit a game back, but the Cubs do have a sweep of reigning Division 1 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate plus early impressive nonleague wins over Clarkston and Ferndale.

Kalamazoo Central (13-2) After just missing the Division 1 Semifinals a year ago – losing to Northview by two in a Quarterfinal – the Maroon Giants are ahead of their 16-win pace from that finish with their only losses to Brother Rice and Battle Creek Lakeview (11-3), the latter by a point. They also defeated Lakeview in the teams’ first meeting, handed Mattawan its only loss and most recently defeated Detroit Renaissance at the 2K23 event. 

DIVISION 2

Ferndale (7-6) Few if any have played a tougher schedule, especially considering Ferndale is Division 2 playing most of the Division 1 powers. The Eagles are No. 5 in Division 2 MPR despite a 1-5 start including losses to Brother Rice, Jesuit, St. Mary’s and Muskegon, and then a two-point loss to North Farmington last week. Meanwhile, Ferndale has defeated Grosse Pointe South (13-3), Flint Beecher (12-3), Clarkston (11-5) and River Rouge (10-5). The North Farmington rematch is Feb. 24, and a Feb. 11 matchup with Port Huron Northern should also boost MPR.

Grand Rapids Christian (10-4) The Eagles may be in fourth in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, but they are No. 6 in Division 2 MPR. Three of the four losses were to league opponents, but Christian is coming off a 55-53 double-overtime win over Warren Michigan Collegiate (13-2) on Saturday at Aquinas. An early win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central and a Jan. 21 victory over De La Salle also stand out.

DIVISION 3

Flint Beecher (12-3) The Bucs are off to another big start after last season’s finish at the Division 3 Semifinals, losing only to Detroit Cass Tech (17-0), Benton Harbor and Ferndale as Beecher also has loaded up its nonleague schedule. Beecher also has four wins over teams with double-digit victories, with an 80-71 defeat of Flint Hamady (14-2) on Jan. 10 putting the Bucs in first in the Genesee Area Conference Red. The Hamady rematch is Feb. 18, before a major regular-season finish against Goodrich (13-1) and Grand Blanc (14-2).

Napoleon (14-0) The Pirates aren’t sneaking up on anyone after going 19-3 last season, but they are dominating nonetheless. All but one win have been by eight points or more, and Napoleon leads the Cascades Conference after finishing second last year with a pair of losses to Vandercook Lake. The Pirates not only defeated Vandercook in their first meeting, by 40, but next defeated Michigan Center by 17 after the Cardinals ended their season last winter. Napoleon also has a 63-45 win over Big 8 Conference co-leader Concord.

DIVISION 4

Baldwin (13-1) The Panthers are coming off an 18-5 finish and second place in the West Michigan D League, and they lead it this time by two games and with a win over Mesick after losing both meetings to the eventual league champ a year ago. Baldwin also has avenged a 2021-22 loss to Mason County Eastern and could avenge another hosting Traverse City Christian on Tuesday. The Panthers also have given Marion (11-4) half its losses.

Powers North Central (11-2) As noted above, the Jets are at least among the handful of elite small-school Upper Peninsula teams, No. 4 in statewide Division 4 MPR although second in D4 in the U.P. with Painesdale Jeffers in the top spot. Those two wouldn’t see each other until a Regional Final, where North Central’s 19-5 run ended last season. The Jets only defeats this time are to Division 2 Kingsford and Division 3 Iron Mountain, which stand a combined 25-3.

Can’t-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Tuesday – Goodrich (13-1) at Corunna (12-2) – They’re tied atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Goodrich winning the first meeting 69-54 on Jan. 10.

Friday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1) – As noted above, the Detroit Catholic League Central title will be on the line, as Jesuit can force a shared championship.

Saturday – Hamtramck (10-5) vs. Kalamazoo Central (13-2) at Benton Harbor – The Cosmos have faced their share of statewide elite as well, and will be seeking what would be one of their most notable wins in this Wilson Chandler Shootout matchup.

Saturday – Flint Hamady (14-2) at Davison (10-5) – Old rivals meet again as Davison is coached by longtime Beecher leader Mike Williams.

Saturday – Saginaw Arthur Hill (7-9) at Saginaw (14-4) – They’ll still have 2023-24 left before one the best rivalries in state history ends with a school merger, but this year’s rematch comes after Saginaw won 57-55 on Jan. 14.

MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) A Saginaw player gets to the rim during Friday's 59-54 loss to Mount Pleasant. (Middle) A Montabella player goes to the basket during his team's 43-28 win last week over Carson City-Crystal.(Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)