Okawville’s first Mater Dei Christmas Tournament championship since 2002 was closed out on an emphatic dunk by junior guard Noah Frederking.
Frederking had 22 points and earned first-team all-tournament honors as he helped lead the Rockets (13-1) past Central 48-40 in the title game on Wednesday.
“I wasn’t sure how much time there was so I was just going to go up there and finish it,” Frederking said of his dunk, which came just a few seconds ahead of the final buzzer and brought the hundreds of Okawville fans in the standing-room-only crowd to their feet. “Our team has a lot of guts. We lost Brad (Fuhrhop to injury) and we came back and played together.
“We all did our roles and came out with a win. Our defense was fantastic tonight.”
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Okawville’s 5-0 run through a tough pool-play schedule and the finale was impressive since the Rockets (13-1) are a Class 1A team battling primarily against larger competition. To be fair, they are the state’s second-ranked 1A team, but they also took down Central (11-2), the state’s top-ranked Class 2A team.
Central won’t have to wait long for a rematch since the teams meet again at 1 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Highland Shootout.
“We’re a small school,” Okawville coach Jon Kraus said. “We’ve got a lot of pride in our program and (our) basketball, the way we go about things. Whether we’re 1A, 2A or 3A, our kids go out and compete. We like playing these kinds of teams in this kind of environment.
“I think it helps us later on and makes us better basketball players.”
Okawville’s balanced scoring also played a role in the outcome. The Rockets got 11 points from Shane Ganz and eight from Alec Wisneski. Outside of senior star Logan Kohrmann’s 22 points, Central’s next highest scorer was Mitchel Rule with seven points.
Another Central scoring threat, junior Jack Strieker, picked up his third foul in the second quarter and eventually fouled out with 4:452 remaining. He scored only two points.
There was little separation between the teams early on but the Rockets got a 9-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Frederking early in the fourth quarter. That put Central in a 37-29 hole and the Cougars couldn’t get any closer than two points the rest of the way.
Rule’s shot cut Okawville’s lead to 41-39 with 1:08 remaining, but the Rockets got enough free throws to put things away.
“They did an outstanding job defensively and our defense wasn’t where it needed to be, either,” Central coach Jeremy Shubert said. “We talked about not letting Okawville and their screening offense get to the rim and they did. We just were a step slow tonight compared to last night.
“You can credit their defense for that as well. They were very disciplined in the lane when we tried to drive and we were standing a lot. We didn’t find seams, we didn’t find open spots. We didn’t move.”
An 8-0 run midway through the first half helped Okawville gain control as the Rockets pushed out to a 14-8 lead.
But with Kohrmann firing away, the Cougars hung close and trailed 25-22 at halftime. Kohrmann collected 15 of his team’s 22 points in the opening half and drained three of his four 3-point attempts.
Frederking had 13 of Okawville’s 25 points at halftime, hitting six of his nine shots.
“I was a little concerned at the beginning of the game, he seemed liked he was kind of passive,” Kraus said. “We had to get him going a little bit, but he did some things offensively tonight that he hasn’t done a whole lot for us.
“He worked the post areas more, he screened a little bit better for our other guys and we played the best motion we’ve played all year on the offensive end.”
First Team: Frederking (Okawville), Kohrmann (Central), Nate Vaughn (Briarcrest), Nick Pollmann (Mater Dei), Teddy Fifer (Metro-East Lutheran.
Second Team: Royce Newman, Nashville, Ganz (Okawville), Jack Strieker (Central), Will Hrubes (Briarcrest), Avery Andrews (Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin).
Briarcrest 67, Mater Dei 48
Hrubes ignited a fire under his team with three quick 3-pointers in the opening quarter and the Briarcrest Saints from Memphis, Tenn., rolled to a big win over Mater Dei in the third-place game. Vaughn led the Saints (14-3) with 22 points and Hrubes had 17. Trey Harrington knocked down 13 points for the Saints, who led 25-19 at halftime and blew things open in the third quarter.
Pollman, a Mater Dei senior, scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter. Jordan Kampwerth added 11 and Blake Langenhorst had nine, all in the first half,
Metro-East Lutheran 64, Highland 60, OT
Fifer tossed in 27 points and Jason Johnson contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds in an overtime win as Metro-East Lutheran (13-3) capped its Mater Dei Tournament debut with a fifth-place finish.
Luke Thies led Highland (8-6) with 16 points while Brode Portell had 14 and Austin Elledge added 12.
Nashville 65, Springfield SH-Griffin 61, OT
University of Missouri football recruit Royce Newman scored 17 points and Brady Bultman added 11 as Nashville pulled away from Griffin in overtime to nail down seventh place. With 280 career points at the tournament, Newman moved into fourth place on the all-time scoring list since it switched to a pool-play format. The Cyclones’ Avery Andrews led all scorers with 23 points while another Mizzou football recruit, Albert Okwuegbunam had 12 points.
Mascoutah 57, Carlyle 54
Mascoutah sophomore Blake Weiss capped an impressive tournament performance by hitting 7-of-12 shots and all six free throws, scoring 20 points to lead the Indians past Carlyle in the ninth-place game. Noah Brandon added 14 points for Mascoutah and Maverick Taylor scored 17 for Carlyle.