With less than a week remaining in the regular season, the Dupo Tigers are not in contention for the Cahokia Conference Kaskaskia Division championship.
But after losing its first 15 games of the season under first-year coach Steve Roustio, the Tigers have won five of their last eight games.
Currently 5-18 heading into road games at Lebanon and Red Bud before competing in the Pinckneyville Regional next week, the Tigers last triumph came Friday when they defeated Valmeyer 58-52. For a program that has not won more than 10 games in a season since 2005-06 when it finished 16-10, any success on the basketball court is a welcome sight.
“With the years of experience in coaching I would say that the quick turn around after dropping 15 straight and now winning five of eight contests is attributed to players developing trust in the coach’s approach,” said Roustio, who coached previously at Granite City. “Having spent time in six different high schools, Dupo has been an experience which has taken the least amount of time needed to garner the trust element.”
Guard Kyle Steinhauer (11.7 ppg) leads Dupo in scoring while athletic forward Kolbie Allen has added just under 11 points per game to the Tigers’ offense.
But the key to the Tigers’ sudden surge has been on the defensive end of the court. In the five wins, Dupo has allowed more than 50 points twice and in three of the wins have held teams under 40 points.
“Another aspect can be related to our players willingness to comprehend and accept the squads overall strengths and weakness. The players have embraced one of our strengths as that of defensive mobility,” Roustio said. “Therefore, we are constantly looking for ways to place our opponent in uncomfortable offensive mindsets, be it through pressure, quick changes or various special defenses assigned to take away opponent strengths.
“Obviously, our shooting percentages have improved over the course of the season, but not so that we have the luxury of abandoning our willingness to control both offensive and defensive tempo.”
Okawville, Madison top two seeds in Class 1A
The Class 1A State Tournament runner-up a year ago, Okawville has earned a top-seed and will host a Class 1A Regional on Monday at Okawville High School.
Led by veteran coach Jon Kraus, Okawville (18-8) dropped a 49-46 heartbreaker to Effingham St. Anthony last year in the state title game. Despite the loss of several players from that team, Okawville has once again been the top Class 1A team in the metro-east.
Tournament action begins with two first-round games Monday. Okawville will take on the winner of the Lebanon-Marissa game Tuesday at 7 p.m. in one semi-final.
Fourth-seed Lovejoy also got a first-round bye and will take on the winner of the game between Valmeyer and New Athens in the other semifinal Wednesday. The title game is set for Friday, Feb. 23 at Okawville.
Second-seed Madison is the top team at the Mount Olive Regional. Coached by Maurice Baker, the Trojans (11-13) will take on the winner of the Hardin-Calhoun-Father McGivney game at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21. Metro East Lutheran is the No. 3 seed and will take on 13-seed Bunker Hill at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Regionals are also being held at Jacksonville Routt and Raymond-Lincolnwood. The four regional winners will advance to the White Hall North Greene Sectional, which begins on Feb. 27.
Wesclin earns top seed in Class 2A postseason
The top-ranked team in the News-Democrat Class 1A-2A basketball poll all season, the Wesclin Warriors and state-ranked Pinckneyville Panthers have earned top seeds for the Class 2A playoffs, which begin Monday.
Wesclin (21-4) will take on the winner of the Roxana-Wood River game at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wood River High School. A win would move the Warriors into the title game Friday at 7 p.m.
Pinckneyville, ranked among the top five Class 2A schools for much of the season, is the top seed and will host a regional. Gibault figures to be the Panthers’ chief competition. The Hawks (8-18) are the fourth seed.
Nashville is a No. 2 seed, but the Hornets are the highest seed at the Staunton Regional. The Hornets could face third-seed Greenville in the title game Friday, Feb. 23. The four regional tournament winners advance to the Wesclin Sectional on Feb. 27.