No matter how you pile them up, 300 career victories is a milestone worth savoring.
Veteran Mascoutah boys basketball coach Scott Oltmann reached that figure late Saturday afternoon, when his Indians posted a 49-34 win at home over the Columbia Eagles.
The victory was the sixth in a row for the Indians (6-2), who have not lost since dropping their first two games of the season against powerful foes Belleville East and Centralia at the Centralia Thanksgiving Tournament.
“The old adage really is true. It just means you have been at it a long time,” said Oltmann, who in two stints has coached the Indians for 16 seasons. “You’ve got to have good kids, a good community, a good school, and we have all those things here.
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“And you could not do it without your family. There are a lot of losses mixed in there too, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Junior forward Blake Weiss played a big role in the win, falling two blocks shy of a triple-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with his eight blocks.
“This is pretty big for coach; he’s great,” said Weiss, a 6-foot-5 junior. “I love Coach O. He supports all of us, leads us to victory. It’s all great.”
Outside of a few brief moments in the opening quarter, Mascoutah led the entire way, taking control in a second quarter where it outscored the Eagles 16-7.
The Indians’ lead never dipped below eight points in the second half.
Tied 9-9 after a quarter, Mascoutah slipped out to a 17-13 in the early minutes of the second quarter, forcing Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom to call a time-out.
What came out of the break, however, wasn’t what the Eagles wanted to see.
First, Mascoutah senior guard Noah Brandon followed a Columbia turnover with a 3-pointer. Seconds later, he forced another turnover, his steal leading to a layup and another Columbia timeout. Following that time out, Brandon drained another 3 to put the Indians up 25-13.
“I just tried to be aggressive, get our team energized,” said Brandon, who finished with 13 points. “Every other night, it seems like someone different for us has a big game. This time it was just my turn to hit those shots.”
Keeping the wraps on Brandon was one of the keys to Columbia’s game plan, according to Eagles coach Mark Sandstrom.
“We knew it was very important that we take No. 3’s points away,” said Sandstrom, “and during that run, that’s when he got his points.
“Also, their pressure made us uncomfortable and made it difficult for us to get the ball inside. Outside of that maybe four and a half minutes, I thought it was a very even game.”
For the third consecutive game, the Eagles (2-4) were without their top returning scorer, junior guard Jordan Holmes, who dislocated his finger in a 60-52 loss at Wesclin on Nov. 30.
“We don’t have our all-state point guard,” said Sandstrom, “and that’s made it tough because we can’t afford to have lapses like we had in the second quarter, because we can’t overcome it.
“But Jordan being out has forced some of our other kids to step up. We’ll be better for it in the long run.”
Holmes, who was averaging 19.3 points per game when he was injured, is expected back Friday, when Columbia travels to Freeburg.
Brandon led Mascoutah with 14 points, while Jaden Stewart had 13.
Greg Long led three Columbia players in double figures with 12 points. Jon Peterson and Cole Khoury, a pair of 6-6 sophomores, both had 10. Peterson also grabbed nine rebounds.