With five players 6-foot-4 or taller, Freeman’s height is going to give its boys basketball opponents this season problems.
The Class C-2 No. 5 Falcons certainly raised the bar on opening weekend when it comes to how high their ceiling is. After opening with a 44-28 road win at Palmyra, Freeman took down C-1 No. 1 Lincoln Christian 65-63 in overtime on Saturday, a result that sent shock waves across the state.
“When you play a team like Christian, you find out right away what you’re good at and what you need to improve on,” Freeman coach Jim McLaughlin said. “This is a big confidence boost for our kids. They see the potential we have if they keep working hard. It definitely energizes you for the rest of the season.”
Despite Freeman’s overall size, it was the Falcons’ perimeter game that made the difference against the Crusaders. McLaughlin said his team made 12-of-17 shots from three-point territory on Saturday after going 11-of-23 in the opener against Palmyra.
“On Thursday night, we felt we had a lot of good shots that just didn’t drop, and we hit those against Christian,” said McLaughlin, whose team returned three starters from last year’s 19-7 squad. “We have a lot of good shooters, but with the height we have, we want to play inside-out and make sure we’re looking inside first.”
Freeman also got it done against Christian with balanced scoring, using four players in double-figures to counter a game-high 30 points from Crusader all-state junior Justin Bubak.
The two leading scorers back from last season, 6-4 senior Tyler Adams and 6-5 junior Trey Yates, led the Falcons with 16 points each. They didn’t have to carry the whole load, however, as 5-foot-10 senior guard Logan Anderson finished with 13 points and 6-8 senior Brady Ideus showed off his outside shooting with 12 points. Gabe Eisenbarth, a 5-9 senior, netted eight points.
Ideus is the son of former Adams Super-Stater Chad Ideus, who started his college career at Nebraska before finishing as an All-American at Nebraska Wesleyan.
Adams, a three-year starter, averaged 13.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, best among the returners this season. Yates averaged nine points an outing last season.
“Tyler’s played a lot of games and has been through it all,” McLaughlin said of Adams, who is just under 100 points from breaking the 1,000-point barrier for his career. “The great thing this year is we’re more balanced. He can relax and focus on other areas of the game now that he doesn’t have the pressure of carrying us. He had three assists in the first quarter on Saturday, and that just makes us tougher to guard.”
Freeman faces a challenging schedule through December. The Falcons host Yutan (2-0), a C-2 state semifinalist last season, on Friday before playing at C-1 No. 10 Auburn on Dec. 14. Freeman’s holiday tournament on Dec. 28 and 29 includes C-1 No. 9 Syracuse and D-2 No. 2 Falls City Sacred Heart.