Wesclin coach Brent Brede has identified those areas he’d like to see the Warriors tighten up as they head into the home stretch of the regular season.
Fighting through adversity isn’t one of them.
Playing host Okawville in the title game of the Okawville Mid-Winter Classic Tournament on Saturday, the Warriors showed the resolve that has made them the top Class 2A team in the metro-east all season.
Fighting off a sluggish first half, the Warriors’ 50-45 win over Okawville wasn’t a work of art, but they made the big plays with the game on the line.
“Like every team coming down the stretch, we are looking to continue to play better as the season winds down. We feel we have a higher ceiling of better and more consistent play,” Brede said. “I was happy with the way our guys battled back in the second half. We made enough plays to be able to win. Okawville is a really good team, especially at home.”
Senior Hunter Ottensmeier made a key defensive play down the stretch while senior Justin Kellogg led a balanced attack with 14 points as the Warriors (17-2) won their second tournament title of the season and fifth game in a row. Wesclin also won the Mascoutah Invitational in November.
Okawville, the Class 1A state tournament runner-up a year ago, had its five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 14-6 for the season.
Ottensmeier (14.5 ppg) leads the team in scoring. Junior Nate Brede (12.4) and Brandon Courtney (10.3) also average in double figures for a Wesclin team that prides itself in consistent play.
Getting back into Cahokia Conference play this week, Wesclin finds itself tied for the top spot in the Mississippi Division with Columbia with a 4-1 record. Salem, which handed Wesclin one of its two losses, is currently 4-2 in league play.
Brede said Monday that no makeup date has been set for the Warriors’ regular season game with Okawville, which was postponed due to icy road conditions Jan. 12.
Ottensmeier and Brede headlined the all-tournament team which included Luke Hensler and Payten Harre of Okawville, Hank Stewart of DuQuoin, Karson Huels of Gibault and Camron Jamison of Madison.
Four head to Pinckneyville Shootout
Wesclin is one of four local teams competing at the Pinckneyville Shootout on Saturday at Pinckneyville High School.
The Warriors will take on St. Louis Confluence Prep at 3:30 p.m. in the fourth of eight games in daylong event.
Other games involving local teams will include Cahokia taking on Webber Township at 11 a.m. Mater Dei will play Marion at 6:30 p.m., and Althoff will battle host Pinckneyville in the finale at 8 p.m.
Other games include Odin playing Cairo at 9:30 a.m., Waltonville playing MICDS at 12:30 p.m., Steeleville playing Meridian at 2 p.m. and Centralia playing Marshall County at 5 p.m.
Jericole Hellems earns MVP at Chick-fil-A Classic
Chaminade senior and North Carolina State University recruit Jericole Hellems was chosen as the most valuable player at the Chick-fil-A Classic at Belleville East after leading his team to an 81-77 win in the title game Saturday.
Joining Hellems, who had 71 points and 27 rebounds, on the all-tournament team were: Chaminade’s Luke Kasubke; Belleville West’s EJ Liddell and Malachi Smith; Champaign Central’s Khailieo Terry and Tim Finke; St. Mary’s Yuri Collins; and Belleville East’s Isaiah May.
Bank of O’Fallon Shootout set for Feb. 2-3
The top-ranked team in Southern Illinois, Belleville West, will face two tests in 24 hours when it competes in the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout on Feb. 2-3 at the Panther Dome at O’Fallon High School’s Smiley campus.
Led by one of the top juniors in the state in EJ Liddell, West will take on host O’Fallon in one of three games Feb. 1.
Decatur MacArthur will kickoff the event when it takes on St. Louis Jennings at 5:30 p.m and will be followed at 7 p.m. when Belleville West battles O’Fallon in a Southwestern Conference game. Winfield (Missouri) will take on Pinckneyville at 8:30 p.m. in the final game of the day.
On Feb. 3, Normal West will take on O’Fallon beginning at 4 p.m. in the first of four marquee matchups. Perennial Class 3A state power Springfield Lanphier will battle Chicago power Bolingbrook at 5:30 p.m. with (St. Louis) Chaminade taking on Chicago Curie at 7 p.m.
Belleville West will take on Webster Groves (Missouri) at 8:30 p.m. in the shootout finale.
LaPorta named MVP at Jerseyville
Highland High School three-sport athlete Sam LaPorta was named as the most valuable player as he led the Bulldogs to the team title at the Jerseyville Tournament last week.
The Bulldogs (15-6) defeated Jerseyville, Cahokia and Collinsville and finished 3-1 in the round robin event.
Joining LaPorta as all-tournament team selections were Ray’Sean Taylor and Keydrian Jones of Collinsville, Nick Schwartz of Quincy Notre Dame, Blake Wittman of Jerseyville and Elijah Rice of Cahokia.
Surging Dupo stretches winning streak
After starting the season by losing their first 15 games, the Dupo Tigers are on a streak of a different kind — a three-game winning streak.
Led by former Granite City coach Steve Roustio, the Tigers received 15 points from Kyle Steinhauer and 13 from Kolbie Allen as they defeated New Athens 56-51 on Friday in a Cahokia Conference game.
The Tigers also have wins over Wood River (45-30) and Marissa (47-27) during the winning streak and will return to league play Feb. 2 at Steeleville.