VALMEYER — The Gibault Hawks weren't quite perfect Friday in the title game of the Class 1A Valmeyer Regional.
Fortunately for the Hawks, Sam Toal was.
A senior forward, Toal connected on all eight of his field-goal attempts and combined with Jacob Weiler to dominate in the post as the Hawks ran past Okawville 64-52 at a jam-packed Valmeyer High School.
Using his lanky 6-foot, 5-inch frame to connect on a series of short jumpers and jump-hooks from the lane, Toal scored 17 points, four of which came during a key 8-0 Gibault run to end the first half.
Leading just 16-13 with 2 minutes and 23 seconds left following a jumper from Okawville's Jeremy Weeke, Gibault got two jumpers from Toal, two free throws from Matt Schreder and an offensive putback from Weiler to take a 24-13 lead into halftime.
Okawville would get no closer than five points in the second half, as it couldn't overcome a Gibault team which shot 24-of-36 from the field.
Junior Nick Row led Gibault with 18 points.
"Until recently, we hadn't gone with two big kids (Toal) and 6-8 Weiler at the same time. Tonight they (Okawville) just couldn't match up with them,,'' Hawks coach Dennis Rueter said. "I don't remember Sam (Toal) missing any shots. He played very well.
"We've been on him to shoot the ball a little bit more and tonight he did.''
The win lifts Gibault (24-2) into the Okawville Sectional semifinals at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday against New Berlin.
New Berlin defeated Springfield Lutheran 58-47 on Friday to win the Franklin Regional.
The regional title is the first since 2001 for Gibault.
"We've had a little bit of a drought here. It seemed before we were winning them (regionals) pretty regularly, but in the past 12 years we've run up against some very good teams and a few bad breaks,'' Rueter said. "It feels good to win this one. I thought we played well.''
Okawville struggled with its shooting all game.
One of the top perimeter shooting teams in the metro east, the Rockets were just 4-of-23 from the floor in the first half.
Still, with Weeke scoring eight of his 26 points, Okawville trailed just 16-13 before the Hawks closed the half with their eight-point run.
"That was a killer,'' Okawville coach Jon Kraus said of the Gibault run. "You've just got to try and battle back and we did when we cut it to five in the third quarter, but then Schreder hit the big 3-point shot to put them back up by eight. We just couldn't recover from that.
"Their big kids hurt us inside, because they were around the rim and early we didn't do a very good job against their defense. They were really coming after us and we didn't make them pay for their aggressiveness.''
Okawville got back into the game in the opening three minutes of the second half.
Baskets by Jake Hensler, Weeke and Zach Yehling cut the Gibault lead to 24-19, but when Schreder drained a 3 on the Hawks' next possession, the lead was back to 27-19.
Mitch Meyer followed with a short jumper and when Toal scored inside, Gibault was in control once again with a 31-19 lead.
"I thought we did a good job on defense. We had that one stretch where they got a couple of baskets on us, but for the most part I was pleased,'' Rueter said. "You knew Weeke, being as a good a player as he is, would try his darnedest to get them back in the game and he gave it a great try.''
Leading 37-26 after three quarters, the Hawks made enough free throws down the stretch and were never seriously threatened as Row made five fourth-quarter free throws.