Boys Basketball

State-ranked Okawville and Central battle right to the end

Okawville Rockets beat the buzzer for the win

Okawville High School Rockets junior Caleb Frederking hit a shot at the buzzer Feb. 17 to give the Rockets a 60-58 win over Breese Central High School Cougars in an IHSA boys basketball win in Breese, IL in southern Illinois near St. Louis, MO.
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Okawville High School Rockets junior Caleb Frederking hit a shot at the buzzer Feb. 17 to give the Rockets a 60-58 win over Breese Central High School Cougars in an IHSA boys basketball win in Breese, IL in southern Illinois near St. Louis, MO.

Okawville junior Caleb Frederking hit a shot in the lane just ahead of the buzzer to lift the Rockets to a wild 60-58 victory Friday night over the Central Cougars in a battle of state-ranked teams.

“I’m glad he made it, too, because I was open in the corner,” joked Noah Frederking, Caleb’s brother and a University of Evansville recruit who scored a game-high 28 points. “If he was going to miss that, he’d have a hard time from me for a while.”

The original option on the play was senior guard Shane Ganz, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half. Noah Frederking was the second option.

Instead, Caleb Frederking worked his way into the lane and pulled up for a shot just in front of the free-throw line.

“The shot was there, and I took the opportunity,” said Caleb Frederking, who helped makes his brother’s senior night a little more special. “I won’t forget it. It was a good shot. I still can’t believe it ... everything pays off.”

Key sequence

Down by eight with 5:41 remaining, the Rockets flew back into the game and ended the Cougars’ 21-game winning streak. Central (23-4), which had not lost since Dec. 2, is ranked seventh in the Class 3A state poll, while Okawville (25-3) is ranked second in Class 1A.

Central beat Okawville 53-47 on Dec. 2 at the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament.

Frederking and Ganz combined for 12 points in the fourth quarter.

“I just told our guys I don’t know if I’ve been involved in a game that was that fun,” Okawville coach Jon Kraus said. “Kids making shots, kids making big plays, it was everybody. Obviously it was nice to win, but I just enjoyed being a part of it. If we’d have lost, it still would have been a great game. It was a super-sectional- or sectional-type feel to it.”

Central hit 60 percent of its shots, committed only five turnovers abd had an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter — but it couldn’t hold on.

“I was really proud of the way our kids just didn’t quit,” Kraus said. “They just kept battling and kept fighting. When you get down eight against them in the fourth quarter, usually it’s lights out.”

Key performers

Central seniors Kolby Schulte and Jack Strieker combined to score 43 of their team’s 58 points. Schulte had 20 of his 22 points by halftime, while Strieker nailed four 3-pointers and scored 15 of his 21 points after halftime.

Schulte was on fire in the first half, scoring 16 of his team’s first 20 points. Central led 28-25 at halftime and 49-46 after three quarters.

“When Shane Ganz plays well for them and scores in double figures, they are a very tough team to beat,” Central coach Jeremy Shubert said. “He did that tonight on senior night, and credit to them, he hit some tough 3s ... Noah hit shots all over the place.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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