By Nate Thompson
KENT CITY – The Fremont Packers took turns tearing apart the Kent City defense on Tuesday.
Senior guard Christian Kennedy opened the game with four 3-pointers in the first quarter. Fellow senior Joshua Zerfas tallied 10 points in the second.
Junior forward Braiden McDonald exploded for 11 points in the third quarter. Senior center Tristan Campbell tossed in nine in the fourth, helping the Packers bounce out of a recent losing skid and coast past the Eagles, 81-68.
It was the fourth game this season that Fremont has scored 80 or more points, including an amazing 102-point showing in regulation against Tri-County on Jan. 21. The Packers are 12-3 overall, but had lost three of their previous four games – the first time in three seasons they had suffered back-to-back losses.
“The energy we played with tonight was better than what we’ve shown in two weeks,” said Fremont coach Peter Zerfas. “We have four guys average double figures in scoring, and that includes Carter Moon, who is out with the flu. So it was good to see some other kids step up.”
Kent City coach Dave Ingles said he watched tape of six Fremont games, and the Packers didn’t showcase their offensive arsenal in those games like they did against his team.
Still, he said, Tuesday’s outcome wasn’t all about Fremont. The coach was frustrated with his team’s effort on the defensive end.
“We just don’t guard,” said Ingles, whose squad fell to 9-5 overall. “It’s been like that all year. They hit a couple threes early and we let them get comfortable. And when you get comfortable, your confidence starts to grow. We have to defend a little bit better, especially going to Morley Stanwood on Friday with a chance to clinch a conference championship.”
Kennedy got the Packers rolling in the first quarter, with all four of his triples coming from two or three feet beyond the 3-point stripe. He finished with a game-high 19 points.
Fremont had a 26-16 lead after one quarter and kept rolling, with Joshua Zerfas exceeding his season average of eight points per game in the second quarter alone.
Zerfas was also one of the Packers tasked with slowing down Kent City standout Eli Carson, who scored 17 points, but struggled to find his outside shot against a zone look that stretched into the perimeter.
“We ran a diamond press into a two (man zone), and our goal was to come out on him and not help as much off of him,” Coach Zerfas said. “He’s a dynamic player, but I thought we did a pretty good job containing him.”
Kent City’s defenders drifted out to stop the Packers’ outside shooters, but that opened lanes for McDonald, who hurt the Eagles with strong drives to the rim throughout the third quarter. He scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half.
Fremont had a 65-49 advantage after three, and led by as many as 17 in the fourth, before a late Eagles’ rally made it a little closer.
“This win was very important because we’ve been down on ourselves recently,” McDonald said. “We’ve been in a slump and it got into our heads. We’ve just made a lot of mental mistakes.
“With so many scorers on this team, it builds your confidence,” he added. “It helps you realize that even if you miss a few shots, it’s OK, because our other players have got your back.”
Joshua Zerfas had 18 points, while Campbell finished with 14 for the Packers.
Senior forward Shawn Anderson had 17 points for Kent City, coming on five 3-pointers. Senior guard Max Hudson contributed 16 points.