The Central Cougars capped a 5-0 run through the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament on Friday with a 51-42 victory over Nashville in the championship game.
“Them giving us the seven seed (out of 10) really fueled us,” Central senior guard Kolby Schulte said after the win. “I think we all thought that we were better than the seven seed. I mean yeah, every team’s good, this tournament’s just from top to bottom really tough.
“But I think that really put some fire under us and made us play a little harder.”
It is the first Mater Dei Tourney title for Central (9-3) since 2011 and the Cougars’ sixth since 2003.
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Central’s Carter Truong and Tyler Joest led the way with 15 points, while Schulte tallied 13 and added six assists. Central scoring leader Jack Strieker was held scoreless, yet still made a huge contribution defensively by helping to hold Nashville scoring leader Ryan Brink to one bucket, which came late in the game.
“I’ve just got to give my team a lot of credit,” Central coach Jeremy Shubert said. “They were just really good all week defensively, and that led to some buckets. We held Brink to two points, Jack did a great job.
“Carter stepped up and guarded him, too, and that was a point of emphasis: Make the other kids score, take Brink out — and our kids stepped up tonight.”
Central led by 10 three times in the second quarter, but even with Brink not scoring, the Hornets found a way to creep back into the contest.
A 9-0 run by the Hornets brought them to within 30-29 late in the third quarter, and they took their first lead of the night, 34-33, on a tip-in by Brogan Kemp early in the fourth. Kemp led the Hornets (10-3) with 16 points and was a force inside all night.
Central answered immediately with a 9-0 run of its own and held on down the stretch with Schulte sinking 5 of 8 free throws.
“You congratulate Central on a really good defensive team, they did take away a lot of things from us and we struggled,” Nashville coach Brad Weathers said. “The open looks that we did have we didn’t knock down until it was too late. We had to expend too much energy.”
Shubert gave Truong a lot of praise for his work offensively and defensively throughout the tourney. Truong scored 12 of his 15 points in the first three quarters Friday and had three 3-pointers.
“Carter hit some big threes,” Shubert said. “Carter’s all-tournament in my book for this tournament. He hit some big, big shots for us, and he played really good defense as well.”
Okawville 73, Mater Dei 50
University of Evansville recruit Noah Frederking capped off his Mater Dei Christmas Tournament career in grand style, erupting for a career-high 37 points to help lead the Rockets to victory in the third-place game.
The 6-foot-4 senior guard drained 10 straight shots at one point and finished the night 13 for 17 from the floor.
“He was as good as I’ve ever seen him tonight,” Okawville coach Jon Kraus said of Frederking, who is now the 56-year-old tourney’s all-time leading scorer with 412 points. “Not because he scored 37 points; he just did everything. He moved, he back-doored guys ... some of the things we’ve been trying to get him to do more of, he really showed off tonight. I just thought he was dominating. He totally dominated the game.”
Earlier this week, Frederking broke the tourney scoring record previously held by former Assumption High star Rick Suttle, who scored 312 points from 1967 to 1970.
“Toward the beginning, I hit a couple shots and got my confidence up,” Frederking said of his career-best offensive outing. “Whatever I shot, it seemed like it was going in, so I just kept shooting.”
One shot in particular during Frederking’s 15-point second quarter against Mater Dei told Kraus everything he needed to know about his senior all-stater.
“I watched him shoot it, and as soon as he let it go, he ran the other way,” Kraus said. “When you see guys that shoot the ball well do that, you know they’re in the zone. We just tried to find him a lot and get it to him. Our guys did a great job of screening and getting him open.”
Mater Dei (7-4) got 13 points from Nolan Robben and eight from Mason Toennies.
First Team: Ryan Brink, Nashville; Noah Frederking, Okawville; Kolby Schulte, Central; Jack Strieker, Central; Lucas Theising, Mater Dei
Second Team: Shane Ganz, Okawville; Brogan Kemp, Nashville; Cendric Henderson, Briarcrest; Dru Johnson, Carlyle; Malik Green, Mascoutah.