Noah Frederking walked off the floor after a sectional championship win feeling more like he had just gone 15 rounds with the world heavyweight champion.
The Okawville sophomore was clutched, slapped, and bullied like he was wearing targets in place of his usual No. 30. But Frederking made Carrollton pay for its physical play, scoring 11 of his game-high 20 points on foul shots to lead the Rockets to a 57-43 win in the Class 1A Okawville Sectional.
In all, Okawville hit 28 of 40 free throws, compared to just five for Carrollton, which had two players foul out.
“The first thing we told our kids after we saw the scouting report was this might be the toughest, most competitive basketball team we’ll see for a while,” said Okawville coach Jon Kraus. “They’re strong and physical, but our kids didn’t back down.”
With its 13th consecutive win, Okawville advanced to the Jacksonville Super-Sectional against Brimfield, which upset Springfield Lutheran at the Lewistown sectional Friday to stretch its own winning streak to 17.
“We’ll have some fun tonight and talk about that tomorrow,” said Kraus. “The biggest thing we’ve got on our board right now is to just go have fun. You don’t get to do this very often, so just have fun with it and run with it. That’s what they’re doing.”
Prior to Friday’s win, Okawville had breezed through the regionals and sectional semifinals winning its three postseason games by an average margin of nearly 36 points.
Kraus confessed to fleeting thoughts that is young team — which includes two sophomores and a junior among its starting five — might view the postseason as being a little too easy and ease up on Carrollton.
But a challenging schedule that included quality Class 2A and 3A teams, the coach said, was an investment in maturing his team. A win over Mater Dei, a 2A sectional qualifier, to close the regular season showed the investment is paying dividends and was a catalyst for a deep post-season run, Kraus said.
“The schedule we play and the difficulty of some of the teams we play — the Mater Dei’s, Nashville’s, the Central’s — it helps us in these situations and it showed again tonight,” he said. “The kids were ready to play. I could tell today at school with the attitude, the way they carried themselves. I was excited for them because I think they were feeling confident.”
Carrollton, whose fans filled nearly half the packed gym, scored the game’s first basket. But Okawville responded with a 20-6 run to close out the first quarter.
Cody Leonard scored a pair of baskets during a 9-2 Carrollton run that closed the lead to five at 22-17. It was as close as the Hawks would get the remainder of the game.
Junior Brad Fuhrhop scored on a baseline drive, Shane Ganz drained a three-point shot and Frederking hit his fifth free throw of the second quarter to put the Rockets ahead 31-19 at halftime.
“Anytime you’re on your home floor and get off to a good start like that, I thought that was key to this game,” Kraus said.
Fuhrhop completed a three-point play with a layup and one from the foul line to put Okawville ahead 28-25 with 4:09 left in the third quarter. The Rockets had just one more field goal there rest of the game —another Fuhrhop layup in the fourth quarter —but hit 12 of its final 15 free throws.
“The difference was they had 40 trips to the line and we had 13,” said Carrollton coach Jeff Krumwiede. “They outscored us 28-5 on foul shots. That’s where the game was decided. We could have overcome anything else if we would have just stopped fouling them.”
Frederking led Okawville with 20 points, Ganz had 14, Fuhrhop had 12, Nick Strubhart had seven, and Alec Wisneski and Mason Drury each scored two.
Carrollton, 21-5, won the Piasa Southwestern Regional with a nine-point win over Metro-East Lutheran. The Hawks entered the sectional having won 10 of their last 11 games, the only blemish to their record coming due to a four-point loss to class 3A Jerseyville.
They were led by Leonard’s 17 points. They also got 12 from Luke Palan. Cole Brannan and Jacob Smith each scored five points, Luke Gillingham had three and Chase McAdams scored one.