By Nate Thompson
FREMONT – It’s often said that farmers don’t work until the sun goes down. They work until the job is done.
That’s the mindset employed by Fremont basketball standout Logan Karnemaat, who has spent his life working extremely hard on his family’s fourth-generation, 3,000-acre farm.
Karnemaat said the farm is a large provider of vegetables and fruits for the nearby Gerber baby food plant, and raises over 8,000 pigs and roughly 120 beef cattle.
“It’s a lot of manual labor,” Karnemaat said. “I’ll do basically whatever is needed. It’s a lot of grunt work. I’ll be washing trucks, or mowing and cleaning up. Around harvest, I’ll be driving our trucks all over.
“A lot of days, you’ll start at 7 a.m. and you’re done whenever everything is taken care of. I mean, I could easily put in 12- to 14-hour days.”
Karnamaat, a 6-foot-10 senior center, employs that work ethic on the basketball court as well, and it’s starting to pay big dividends.
He’s a big reason why the Packers have raced out to one of their best starts in recent memory with an 8-1 record. And he seems to keep getting better by the game.
That was obvious with the stat line he put up against Central State Activities Association rival Grant on Jan. 11, when he recorded an amazing 37 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks.
“They were one of a few teams that didn’t double-team me,” said Karnemaat, who easily surpassed his previous scoring high of 27 points. “It was 1-on-1 coverage throughout, so my team kept feeding me the ball.”
Throughout the season, he’s averaging 14.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. He set Fremont’s season record for blocks last year with 107, and also owns the career record with 225 and counting.
Veteran Fremont coach Pete Zerfas said Karnemaat’s performance against Grant was extra remarkable, considering what he’s been playing through. He’s endured constant pain in his right foot in recent seasons, with two bones rubbing against each other. And earlier this season, he suffered a slight stress fracture in his left foot.
“It’s not real bad, but it still causes him some discomfort,” Zerfas said. “He’ll take some ibuprofen to deal with it, but we’ve tried limiting him here and there. We’ve limited how much he scrimmages in practice. He’s still running well, so he’s learned to deal with it.”
Although he’s always been a dominant shot blocker, Zerfas said Karnemaat has worked extremely hard to expand his offensive game. The left-hander’s only post move during his first varsity season two years ago was a drop-step for a left-handed layup.
“Now, he’s comfortable attacking the rim going left or right, and he has a really nice shot out to the free throw line,” Zerfas said. “He says he can shoot the three, but we don’t have him drift out there too often.”
The son of 6-foot-6 Tom and 5-foot-10 Julie Karnemaat, Logan said he’s much more patient with the ball in his hands these days, and he feels out the defense before making his move.
His confidence has also soared thanks to the daily battles in practice with two other tall teammates, Calvin Miller (6-5) and Tristan Campbell (6-8). Fremont also features key guards Braiden McDonald, Carter Moon and Josh Zerfas.
Beyond those players, the Packers are blessed with depth, and can go 10 deep when necessary. In a recent practice, Zerfas said the second string gave the starters all they could handle, although Karnemaat stood out above the rest – literally and figuratively.
“We have the type of team that can match up with anybody,” Zerfas said. “Our offense hasn’t been great, but it’s starting to come around. But our defense can keep us in any game.
“Our ultimate goal is to win a regional title, which hasn’t happened here since 1956.”
Karnemaat said he believes the Packers can finish 18-2 or 17-3 in the regular season, and a trip to the Breslin Center in East Lansing – host of the state semifinals and finals – would be “the ultimate dream,” he said.
If that happens, expect more college coaches to come calling. Already, Grace Christian University, Calvin College, Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University have inquired about Karnemaat’s talents, but he hasn’t made any decisions yet.
The colleges will probably have to be patient, because there’s always work to be done on the farm.