KIRKWOOD, Mo. — Senior Nick Van Osdale clearly doesn't mind carrying the scoring load for Belleville West.
The 6-foot-2 point guard dropped in a career-high 43 points Monday as the Maroons opened their season with a 60-54 victory over Vianney in the Vianney Invitational Tournament.
Van Osdale, who had 20 points in the first half and 23 in the second half, finished 12-for-20 from the field and made six 3-pointers. He was 13-for-17 from the free-throw line, including 11-for-14 in the fourth quarter as West held off repeated comeback attempts.
"It all started with my teammates. They were getting me the ball in good positions," Van Osdale said. "I give it up to my teammates. They made great passes, great screens and the shots were just falling tonight."
Van Osdale figures to have more big performances this season, particularly until the Maroons begin getting offensive contributions from less-seasoned players.
"We're a little inexperienced," Van Osdale said. "They're seniors, but they haven't played much varsity time. It is going to be difficult for them early on, but I don't think I have to have great games. I have a lot of confidence in my teammates. I think they can play."
Senior Isaiah Lewis scored nine points for the Maroons, who had no other player with more than two. West had no more than two players convert baskets in a quarter until the fourth, when Van Osdale, Lewis and senior D.J. Owens had buckets.
"We've got other guys who can step up and score," Maroons coach Joe Muniz said. "They had a hard time guarding Nick. He's pretty elusive. But I'll give our other guys a lot of credit because they found him, they got him the ball in positions he could score and they set good screens for him.
"It was a team win all the way around."
The Maroons, seeded fourth in the tournament, will play top-seeded Hazelwood Central in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The Hawks pounded eighth-seeded Farmington 85-55 in another opening-round contest.
Vianney, seeded fifth, will face Farmington at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Golden Griffins coach Kevin Walsh has seen Van Osdale sizzle the nets at Vianney for the last three years.
"We know Nick and we know Nick's a great player," Walsh said. "I'm a little disappointed in our guys. He got 40. I would like to see us be a little tougher. We only got to the foul line five times, which kind of speaks to a lack of aggressiveness on our part.
"Running offense against them is like getting a root canal. It's painful. It's a grind, grind, grind. They really did a nice job of taking us out of it. ... Death, taxes and Belleville West playing physical and hard. Those are three constants in life. That's how we want to play."
Senior Brad Woodson, a Central Missouri State recruit, led the Golden Griffins against West with 24 points, 14 in the fourth quarter. Sean O'Brien, a 6-9 senior, had 12 points.
"I thought we did a great job guarding Woodson," Muniz said. "Give all the credit to D.J. Owens, Isaiah Lewis and (junior) Kyle Sweeney. Those were some hard-earned points. Overall, those guys kept him silent pretty much until the last two, three minutes of the game."
Van Osdale was anything but quiet. He had 11 points and three 3-pointers in the first quarter. His final 3-pointer of the period put West ahead to stay at 15-13. Van Osdale scored nine points in the second quarter as the Maroons grabbed a 29-22 lead at the half.
Vianney got within 29-28 with a 6-0 run to start the third quarter, but Van Osdale hit a 3-pointer to make it 32-28 with five minutes left in the period. The Golden Griffins cut the Maroons' lead to two on two other occasions in the quarter, but Van Osdale answered both times, first with a basket and then two free throws.
The free throws came with 1.3 seconds to play in the quarter and put the Maroons ahead 38-34.
West opened a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and kept Vianney at arm's length down the stretch. A rebound basket by the 5-8 Owens was key, as were three free throws in four attempts by Van Osdale.
"Nick's a very good player and he's going to have to score for us to win," Muniz said. "Tonight, he was on. He was feeling it, and our guys did a good job finding him and screening for him.
"Right now, I don't think they care about anything other than the fact we won the game."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.