The effort and non-stop aggressive play which has characterized the Okawville Rockets was evident from the start of the Class 1A Jacksonville Supersectional on Tuesday at the Jacksonville Bowl.
Unfortunatly the Rockets left their shooting touches back in Washington County.
Second team all-state selection Carson Cuevas scored a game high 22 points while 6-foot-8 wide body Brad Novak added 16 points and 12 rebounds as the Brimfield Indians rolled to a 53-38 win before a near-capacity crowd.
Okawville, which trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half and by 25-23 at halftime, took its first lead since the opening two minutes of the game when sophomore Noah Frederking opened the second half with a 3-point basket.
That basket, which came with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter, was one of the final highlights of the night for Okawville which made just one field goal the remaining 15 minutes of the game and missed its final 15 shots. Okawville (25-10) did not make a field goal in the final 11 minutes 57 seconds of the contest.
“We knew we just had to pick it up on both ends of the floor,” said Novak as he waited for his turn to cut down the net. “All year long, when we’ve gotten down — and it hasn’t happened often — it’s lit a fire under our butts. It did again tonight.”
The win lifts Brimfield into the Class 1A State Tournament semifinals on Friday at 2 p.m. at the Peoria Civic Center. There the Indians (32-2) will take on Colfax (Ridgeview) which defeated Flanagan k57-38 on Tuesday to win the Normal Supersectional.
The state tournament appearance will be the first since 1979 for the Indians.
And if the Indians 1-3-1 zone and quick trapping defense was like it was on Tuesday, Brimfield could be playing for the state title on Saturday afternoon..
“Our defense has been one of the keys for us all year,” Indians coach Scott Carlson said. “Tonight we had to know where No. 30 (Frederking) was and I thought we did a good job of not letting him get loose all night.
“Carson (Cuavas) had a good game for us and the big boy (Novak) really came to play tonight. He had 16 points and 12 rebounds and defensively they (Okawville) got nothing inside.”
Okawville (25-10), making its first supersectional appearance since 2009, trailed by 11 points on two occasions in the first half, but rallied behind eight points from Frederking and five from Alec Wisneski in the second period.
Held without a field goal for the first 12 minutes, the 6-3 Frederking hit a 3-point shot with 3 minutes 50 seconds left in the first half to cut the Indians lead to 23-16.
Wisneski followed with two free throws and a 3-point play to cut the lead to four points and when Nick Strubhart added a free throw with 1:23 left, Okawville had closed to within two points.
Brimfield led 25-23 at halftime, but at that moment, Okawville had the momentum.
“We didn’t play that well, but down only two at halftime, I liked where we were. We were in a good position,” Rockets coach Jon Kraus said. “But if you are going to win basketball games you’ve got to be able to knock down shots and we just didnt do that in the second half
“We don’t play much against the kind of defenses that they (Brimfield) played against us tonight. Maybe its partly my fault. Maybe I didn’t do a good enough job of preparing this basketball team for what it was going to see tonight.”
Frederking, who led Okawville with 16 points, brought a large contingent of Rockets boosters to its feet when he nailed a 23-foot jumper from the top of the key to open the third quarter for a 26-25 lead.
But Cuavas got loose for a pair of short range jumpers, Novak scored on an offensive rebound and when Jace Swietek hit an off-balance 3-point jumper, the Indians had a 36-26 lead and control 0f the game late in the third quarter.
“We just had to pick up our intensity in the second half,” Cuavas said. “We did that.”