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My Night With Jimmer

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Memories of my trip to watch Jimmer Fredette carry his team to the state title game four years ago.

My Night With Jimmer

Before anybody was taught how to Jimmer, before anybody "got Jimmered", before his Wooden Award, Jimmer Fredette was a mid-level guard prospect for Class A Glens Falls High School in Glens Falls, New York.  He put up gaudy scoring numbers for his school, even breaking the Section II career scoring record (which had previously stood at 2,373 points), but he was largely overlooked in recruiting.  He received offers from just five schools: BYU, Marshall, UMass, Utah, and hometown Siena.  He committed to BYU in September of 2006, and we all know what has happened since then.

I got the opportunity to watch Jimmer Fredette play his final high school basketball game, which incidentally was the Class A State Championship Game, against Peekskill.  The city of Glens Falls hosts the State Tournament every year, so Jimmer and his team were playing what was essentially a home game.  I had been attending the state tournament every year while in high school, and I got the chance to see guys like A.J. Price and Greg Paulus play there.  This was Glens Falls first trip to the Final Four since 2003, and it was my chance to see Jimmer play.  Looking in the program, I only thought of him as a kid with a silly name.  But then I read about his accomplishments, and saw the enormous Glens Falls community show up to support him and the rest of the team.  It was quite surreal.  In hindsight, I equate this experience to discovering an awesome band in their infancy, before they become too mainstream.    

The Red Devils of Peekskill were the two-time defending state champions, and their star player, Mookie Jones, had already committed to play for Syracuse.  Glens Falls was the underdog going in, but this was a huge opportunity for Jimmer to rise to the occasion and carry his school to the title.  The game didn't exactly turn out that way, though.

The Glens Falls Civic Center is a modest arena, accommodating just over 4,800 fans.  It serves as a hockey arena, and the court rests on top of the covered ice with folding chairs set up to fill the rest of the empty space.  Every single seat was filled that night.  Nearly everyone in attendance was cheering for Jimmer and Glens Falls.  As intimidating as this must have been for visiting Peekskill, it must have added some pressure for Jimmer and his teammates.  Glens Falls got off to a quick start and led 19-14 after the first quarter.  Peekskill started to assert itself athletically in the second quarter and took the lead at one point, but Glens Falls maintained a slim three-point lead, 32-29, at the end of the first half.  Peekskill had all of the momentum riding in its favor until Jimmer launched a long three and connected with 32 seconds left in the period.  The crowd went into a frenzy, especially because Jimmer had been struggling from the floor.  

Peekskill made their move in the third quarter with a quick 12-4 run.  Jimmer picked up his third and fourth fouls late in the period, but everyone in the building knew that wouldn't keep him off the court for long.  Peekskill led 43-38 going into the fourth, and Glens Falls needed somebody to step up.  Jimmer wasn't up to the task, scoring just three points in that final period.  The home crowd did their best to spur on their team and they did cut the deficit to one, 46-45, with 3:24 seconds left.  But this wouldn't be a "Hoosiers"-like ending for Glens Falls.  Behind staunch defense, Peekskill stretched out their lead down the stretch and won the game 58-48 in a contest that was closer than the final score indicated.   

Jimmer ended up with a John Starks-like title game performance, shooting 3-23 from the field and 2-16 from downtown.  He did end up with 19 points because he managed to hit 11-12 from the charity stripe.  Even in that dreadful performance by most standards, there was something about Jimmer's game that stood out.  He had that same bounce when he brought the ball up the court.  He possessed that same fearlessness when pulling up for long threes.  The smooth jump shot, the aggressiveness, and the passion were all there.  I could tell there was something there, and I knew I would keep tabs on Jimmer throughout his collegiate career.  I never envisioned seeing Jimmer turn into a National Player of the Year, soon-to-be lottery pick, or the national sensation that he has become.  That is a testament to all of the hard work that Fredette has put in at BYU, and you know he will work just as hard to silence the critics who say he can't make it at the next level.

Let Charged.fm get you tickets to see Jimmer Fredette get drafted!  

I'm just happy to have been there since the beginning.  We'll always have that one night together, before everybody wanted a piece of the Jimmer.    

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