Okawville Rockets coach Jon Kraus may want to schedule some more Friday night games in Monroe County.
The Rockets knocked off Columbia last Friday and a week later avenged a previous defeat to Gibault, knocking off the Hawks 47-38 in a battle between two of the area’s top independent teams.
“These two road wins against really good teams really helps our confidence,” said Kraus, whose team — ranked 10th in the state in Class 1A — improved to 15-9. “That win last Friday really helped our kids this week. They’ve come into our gym and beaten us a couple times the last couple years, so it was a nice win.
“I don’t want to come over here too many times this year if I don’t have to.”
Gibault beat Okawville 59-54 in the championship game of the Okawville Invitational and this time the Rockets returned the favor in the Hawks’ own gym.
Okawville senior Nick Strubhart made his presence felt, scoring 13 of his 15 points in the first half to help the Rockets get off to a quick start.
“I was just on tonight, I don’t know what happened,” said Strubhart, who was happy with the win over Gibault. “I was feeling really good from the start, so I think that’s what helped a lot. I was pumped up and ready to go.”
A personal 8-0 run by Strubhart allowed the Rockets to create a little separation from the Hawks during the second quarter. That included a pair of 3-pointers and he also drained one at the end of the first quarter to put the Rockets on top 12-7.
“That really was big for us,” Kraus said of Strubhart’s big night. “The first time we played them he got in foul trouble. We need him in there to bang with some people and to help us guard these guys in particular. Those were some big threes, (he) made them come out a little bit.
With Okawville scoring leader Noah Frederking quieted during the first half, scoring only four points and taking three shots while also battling early foul trouble, Gibault (16-8) hung tough. But Frederking wouldn’t stay quiet for long in the second half, finishing with a team-leading 17 points.
One of those shots was a big 3-pointer that pushed Okawville’s lead to 12 early in the fourth quarter.
“The times that he’s struggled and teams have guarded him well, other kids have stepped up,” Kraus said of Frederking, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark last week and is getting Division I recruiting looks. “Nick Strubhart was outstanding tonight, Brad Fuhrhop hit big threes, Shane Ganz hit some shots...they all just played their role pretty well.”
Fuhrhop had 11 points.
Sophomore Trevor Davis (18 points) and junior Brian Deterding (13 points) scored 31 of Gibault’s 37 points. That output was strong, but the lack of offensive balance made it tough for the Hawks to cut into Okawville’x advantage, which hovered between nine points or a little higher much of the second half.
“It was a good win, a tough game,” Kraus said. “We just played two weeks ago; obviously they knew what we were going to try to do. They knew what we were going to do. I liked our competitiveness from the start, I didn’t like it the first time we played them.
“Our first quarter we didn’t come to play and tonight it seemed like we were ready from the get-go. It’s good sign.”
Gibault coach Dennis Rueter found plenty of holes in his team’s overall performance, which included inconsistency on offense and defense. Starters Jacob Rueter, Zach Rueter and Jacob Bircher combined for seven points.