On a night when the shots weren’t falling, the Okawville Rockets turned to plan ‘D’ on Monday at the Class A New Athens Basketball Regional.
‘D’ for defense that is.
Led by a defense which forced 32 Marissa turnovers, the Rockets survived a shaky offensive performance and went on for a first-round 39-19 win over the undersized Meteors.
Without a senior in the starting lineup and battling a bad case of postseason opening night nerves, the Rockets led only 11-6 after one quarter and 13-6 with under four minutes left in the first half. But when Mallory Unverfehrt scored twice and Casean Tebbe added a basket on an offensive rebound to key a 6-3 run, Okawville took a 19-9 lead at intermission.
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Marissa (2-26) would get no closer then eight points for the rest of the night.
“We were nervous in the first quarter and it took a little time before we were able to get in a flow and get rid of the jitters. We’re awfully young and I could tell as the girls were really shaky,” Okawville coah Michelle Hasheider-Burianek said. “Defensively, we thought that because of our size we could put pressure on them and create some turnovers. That’s what happened.”
The win lifts Okawville (9-16) into the regional semifinals on Tuesday where it will take on top-seeded New Athens at 6 p.m. Christ our Rock Lutheran, of Centralia, will take on Sandoval at 7:30 p.m. with the winners meeting for the regional title at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
“We’re going to have to raise out level of play a couple of levels tomorrow (Tuesday),” Hasheider-Burianek said. “New Athens is big, strong and they are very expperienced.”
Also a very young team, Marissa was never able to get on track against the Rockets. Getting four early points from sophomore Emily Skorcz, the Meteors trailed just 9-6 after one quarter, but six turnovers in seven possessions midway in the second period signaled the beginning of the end for coach Daris Degenhhart’s squad.
“We played hard and I certainly can’t fault our effort. But when they (Okawville) came out on us we just had no answers,’’ Degenhart said. “They have a lot more size then we do and when they keep coming at you eight and nine deep off the bench, we just couldn’t match it.
“It would have been nice to win a few more games. But we’re very young and hopefully we can use this as a building block for the future.”
Okawville got rolling in the third quarter and was led by four points each from Jessie Klasing and Unverfehrt. The Rockets had six players score in a 19-7 surge as it took a 35-16 lead heading into the final period.
“That was one of the things we talked about at halftime. In the first half when we were nervous we were very non-aggressive in taking the ball to the basket,” Hasheider-Burianek said. “The second half I thought we did a much better job on offense. I do have to give credit to Marissa though. My goodness, those kids play so hard.”
Unverfehrt led Okawville with eight points while senior guard Brooke Inman paced Marissa with seven points.
Class 2A Carlyle Regional
Carlyle 54, Marquette 43: The fourth seeded Indians built a 16-9 lead after one quarter and never looked back as they moved into a second-round game with top-seeded Central.
Hannah Hoffman paced Carlyle with 24 points.