Even after losing all-state senior forward Madison Hackstadt to a left knee injury in the opening seconds of the season opener, Okawville has shown that it can contend this season.
With senior Madelyn Tepe scoring 12 points to lead a balanced attack, the Rockets defeated Class 2A state power Nashville 39-38 in the title game of the Nashville Thanksgiving Tournament on Saturday.
Okawville (5-0) entered the season with nearly everyone returning from a team that advanced to the Class 1A sectional championship last season. The Rockets trailed Nashville by five points at halftime but, led by Tepe and junior Kate Lohman, outscored the host school 17-8 in the third quarter to take the lead for good.
“We were able to survive a tough night at the free throw line (3 of 13),” Okawville coach Michelle Hasheider-Burianek said. “Nashville is a good team, and we were lucky to get out of there with a win. The thing we had during the tournament is that we have had someone different step up in every game.
“I was super impressed with how the girls stepped up with Madison (Hackstadt) out. I knew they could do it but was happy to see what great team effort and intensity they brought all week. We have a lot to work on, but hopefully we can keep improving every day. Another key was the defense. We played great defense all week.”
Hackstadt, a Southern Illinois University Edwardsville recruit tore her left ACL. Her coach said the severity of the injury is still unknown.
Tepe and senior Casean Tebbe were first-team all-tournament players, while junior Kymberly Schmitt was a second-team selection. Nashville’s Paige Kasten, who led the Hornettes with 14 points, and teammate Karly Stanowski, were also first-team selections.
Althoff rebounding after slow start
Althoff coach Brianna Ankenbrandt wasn’t too concerned about transitioning to her new role atop the Althoff girls basketball program despite a hectic schedule.
The former graduate assistant at Lindenwood University-Belleville also serves as Althoff’s assistant athletic director and teaches health. But as an assistant coach the past two seasons, she’s already well familiar with those players who came up through the junior varsity team.
“The girls who are sophomores and juniors now know me well, and they know what I stress and how I coach,” Ankenbrandt said. “They know what is expected in this basketball program.”
After losing to Salem, Teutopolis and Highland to start the season, the Crusaders have won three of their past four games and are currently 3-4 following a 63-57 win over Marion on Monday.
Sisters Tiffani Siekmann (11.0) and Gabby Siekmann (6.7), and Anaya Davis (7.7) lead the Crusaders in scoring.
“We had a tough road early ... but we’ve played better lately,” Ankenbrandt said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to progress as the season goes on.”
Rankings for metro-east teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff. First-place votes are in parentheses.
Large school rankings (Class 3A-4A)
Also receiving votes: Belleville East (2-3), Collinsville (3-1), East St. Louis (1-0), Triad (3-1), Freeburg (2-0), Jerseyville (4-1)
Small school rankings (Class 1A-2A)
Also receiving votes: Carlyle (5-0), Marquette (5-1), Wesclin (3-4), Gibault (4-1), Father McGivney (4-2), Althoff (3-4), New Athens (2-3)