FIRTH — Freeman may have been dreaming of upsetting No. 4 Elmwood-Murdock at Norris High School on Thursday, but the Knights' Wes Dreamer was a complete nightmare for the Falcons.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore scored a game-high 24 points, 17 in the first half, and hit a floating buzzer-beater to end the first quarter en route to a 44-33 win in the C2-2 subdistrict final.
Dreamer also highlighted the first-quarter scoring outburst, when he had eight of the Knights' 11 points, including a breakaway two-handed jam.
“Tonight it was Wes down low," Knights head coach Matt Shelsta said. “He is a matchup nightmare for some teams, for being a 6-4 kid that can handle the ball and score down low.
“(Wes) has been a big factor for us all year. In big games you hope that your quality players can step up and make big plays at big times, and he did.”
After Dreamer posted the big first half, Freeman clamped down defensively, holding Dreamer scoreless in the third quarter.
“Freeman is a well-coached and (a) tough team,” Shelsta said. “We are very fortunate to put a couple more baskets in then they did.”
That is when the rest of the Knights helped carry the load.
Cole Eggert hit a three-pointer to push the Elmwood-Murdock lead to 26-19 in the third quarter. Moments later Zach Rust drilled his second three of the game after leaving for a few minutes after being shaken up on a hard foul.
“When you can get basket shots, point-blank, or within 5 feet, that is a great feeling to start out that way,” Shelsta said. “Then your comfort grows, and once the defense collapses we can kick it out to some shooters that can make some shots.”
Dreamer scored seven points in the final frame to help send Elmwood-Murdock to a district final and a chance at a state tournament berth.
“Good teams are going to keep coming at you, and Freeman is that,” Shelsta said. “Freeman is a real good team, and we try to focus on being consistent and attacking people even when bad things happen to us. When good things happen we try to stay even and consistent, and that is hard to do.
“We have had a target on our back all season long, and have weathered some storms and have gone through some good hard things for us. We are a much tougher team than the start of the season.”
Elmwood-Murdock will play Diller-Odell in next week's district final.
Griffins advance to district final
FAIRBURY -- Diller-Odell outlasted Southern Thursday night to advance to the C2-1 District final.
The Griffins beat Southern 42-37 at Fairbury High School and will now play Elmwood-Murdock in the district final at 7 p.m. Monday at Crete High School.
Southern led 8-3 after the first quarter and 18-11 at half time. The Griffins outscored Southern 17-4 in the third quarter to take a 28-21 lead. They were able to hold on for the 42-37 win.
Payton Mohr led the way for Diller-Odell with 14 points while Dylan Wolbert had 11 points, Reese Hennerberg had nine points, Shane Sutton had four points, TJ Schroeder had three points and William McLaughlin had one point.
Southern was led by Trevin Saathoff's 20 points while Ian Salts had nine, Ethan Zvolanek had six and Drake Adams had two.
Southern's season comes to an end after posting a 13-11 record. Diller-Odell improves to 9-14.