OKAWVILLE — After a rough day of shooting at practice on Monday, Gibault High senior guard Matt Schreder wass determined to straighten things out at the Class 1A Okawville Sectional.
Schreder nailed four of five 3-point attempts and finished with 18 points, hitting six of seven shots overall as Gibault knocked off New Berlin 64-49 in the sectional semifinals.
"He had a terrible night of shooting last night at practice. I got upset with him because his body language was terrible," Gibault coach Dennis Rueter said. "I thought it was really important that he make the first one or two, otherwise he's thinking about it. He made the first one or two and after that he had them going pretty well."
Gibault (25-6) advanced to the sectional championship and will face the winner of Wednesday's Madison-Edinburg semifinal contest.
Schreder and the Hawks needed to be successful from long range to pull the Pretzels out of a pesky 1-3-1 zone defense that forced nine Gibault turnovers in the first half.
"If I hit the first one, I get my rhythm down and I get more confidence at the game goes on," Schreder said.
It was a strong shooting night for the Hawks overall as they hit 22-of-32 shots (69 percent). That included a rare 9-for-13 night from the 3-point arc.
"We made some shots," Rueter said. "We had some good shots and they're shots you'd like to make, but you don't make those every night. If we don't make those, that game gets a little more interesting, doesn't it?"
Instead, the second half lacked much emotion or intensity as the Hawks wore down the smaller Pretzels.
Gibault got 11 points and 11 rebounds from Sam Toal and 11 points from Nick Row, while Brendan McFarland added 10 points and seven rebounds.
"With the 1-3-1 we were going to get some open shots, all we've got to do is get dribble penetration in the middle and kick it out," Schreder said. "Ever since Wes (Degener) went out, everyone's stepped up ...they're scoring more and playing harder defense."
New Berlin's season ended at 15-17 against a bigger, more athletic Hawks team.
The Pretzels had some early success with the zone defense, but the Hawks' shooting finally shredded that strategy.
"It's something that we've gone two here in the second half of the season had it's given a lot of teams trouble," New Berlin coach Jon Barth said. "But between their size advantage and all their shooters that they have, it's just tough to rotate to all those different posts."
Pretzels' star guard Eric Gustafson had seven of his team's 11 points in the first quarter to keep the teams tied 11-11, but Gibault found its range from the 3-point arc in the second quarter.
Gustafson finished with 17 points on 7-of-19 shoots. and Jacob Hunt added 11.
The Hawks got two 3-pointers from Mitch Meyer and two more from Schreder and used a 10-2 run to pull away. The lead reached 29-19 on a shot by Gibault's McFarland.
"(Schreder) made a couple shots early and that's really big for a shooter," Rueter said. "He felt like he was going to make them the rest of the night and he did."
Gibault led 29-21 at halftime as the Hawks hit seven of eight shots in the second quarter and 12-of-16 in the first half. The hot shooting continued in the second half.
"They do a nice job of being patient and waiting for you to break down," Barth said. "But our kids never quit and never gave up, we just ran into a better team tonight."