The points scored by Noah Frederking on Saturday were no less important than the ones negated by Okawville Rockets teammate Shane Ganz.
Frederking had 23 points and 12 rebounds and Ganz scored 14 while holding Metro-East Lutheran scoring ace Teddy Fifer to seven as Okawville posted a 53-40 victory at the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament.
Okawville (10-1) won for the second time Saturday after knocking off Carlyle 63-53 in the 9 a.m. tourney opener. The Rockets are ranked second in the Class 1A state poll while Metro-East Lutheran (10-2) made its tourney debut ranked eighth in the state.
“Shane did a good job on Fifer and that’s basically why we played well,” Frederking said of Ganz, who also contributed 14 points. “Shane is a shut-down guy.”
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Fifer was averaging 19.2 points, but Ganz held the talented senior guard scoreless until the second quarter on the way to a seven-point night.
“We thought that we’d have to take him off at sometime, he’d wear him out,” Okawville coach Jon Kraus said of Ganz. “But Shane got off to a good start and kind of took him out of the game early a little bit. It seemed like he kind of stayed out of the game, Shane was just there all the time.”
The ironic part of the equation was that Okawville had just lost to Gibault at home on Tuesday, the same Gibault Hawks that Metro-East Lutheran has beaten twice this season. In addition, Okawville, Metro-East Lutheran and Gibault are all in the same 1A sub-sectional so getting that No. 1 seed is huge.
“They thought that they were just going to come in and beat us since they beat Gibault us and Gibault just beat us,” Frederking said. “They thought it was going to be a little cakewalk but we came out tougher and we played probably one of our best games of the year. It just all clicked at once.”
Metro-East Lutheran coach Anthony Smith probably agreed with that assessment since his team trailed 16-9 after the first quarter and 31-15 at halftime.
“I like them, I think they’re a good ballclub,” Smith said of the Rockets. “Do I think they’re 13 points better than us? No, I don’t. I’m just going to be plain and blunt, we played absolutely terrible. We played selfish, we didn’t find the extra person, we didn’t do anything on defense.
“They’re a good ballclub. They’re No. (2) in the state for a reason.”
The Knights got 19 points from junior guard Kenrique Brown and eight from Jason Johnson. They also battled turnovers and had trouble cracking Okawville’s effective defense.
“We missed layups, we threw the ball out of bounds to Colorado, to Turkey, to Japan ... wherever we could throw it to we found somewhere to throw it besides to the open person,” Smith said. “I’m a big guy about character. It will tell a lot about us how we play these next four games.”
Kraus felt the Gibault loss turned out to be a nice momentum-builder for the Rockets.
“Gibault’s really good, so are these guys,” Kraus said. “We played really well tonight. We executed the game plan that we wanted to do perfectly.”
Frederking scored 24 points in the Rockets’ win over Carlyle earlier in the day, giving him 47 points in the two games. Though only a junior, the Division I prospect is closing on on the all-time tourney scoring record of 312 points set by former Assumption High star Rick Suttle from 1967-70.
With 243 points, Frederking needs 70 points to break the record. The Rockets have three games remaining in the tournament this year, so is Frederking worried about the record?
Not at all. He wants a tournament championship.
“That’s the main goal for sure,” he said.
Kraus liked getting the tourney doubleheader out of the way early.
“If you had to play three games in a day, kids can do it,” Kraus said. “We used our bench a little bit more tonight than we did this morning, but when it comes down to it this week is a gut-check. That’s what I always tell our teams when we come over here - it’s a gut-check week.
“Everybody’s got to do it at some point. The reward for us is we get a day off (Sunday), we don’t play until 6 p.m. Monday and then 7:30 on Tuesday.”
Central 45, Highland 40
Senior Logan Kohrmann capped a strong opening day at the tourney with 23 points as top-seeded Central improved to 2-0 by holding on to beat Highland. Highland (6-4) was within two points with 56.4 seconds remaining, but the Cougars held off the late charge. Luke Thies scored 16 points for Highland and Brode Portell had nine. Kohrmann also came up big on defense as he held Highland’s second-leading scorer. Austin Elledge, without a point.
Okawville 63, Carlyle 53
The 9 a.m. game is a tough one for favored teams and upset-minded Carlyle gave the second-seeded Okawville Rockets everything they wanted for most of the way. The game as tied 37-37 when Okawville (9-1) took off on an 11-3 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Mason Drury. Frederking topped the Rockets with 24 points while Ganz added 16 and Brad Fuhrhop had 10. Connor Toennies and sophomore Tyler Siever had 12 points each for Carlyle.
Central 59, Mascoutah 35
Kohrmann scored 17 points and Central overcame an early Mascoutah lead on the way to a lopsided victory over the Indians. Chase Schneider added three 3-pointers and 11 points for Central while Mascoutah senior Ethan Mayberry had 14 points.
Springfield SH-Griffin 55, Mascoutah 48
Mascoutah held a 41-37 lead with 6:20 remaining, but the Cyclones of Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (2-6) attacked the net a little harder and came away with a win. The Cyclones got 13 points from 6-6 senior Albert Okwuegbunam and 11 each from Avery Andrews and Tim Breinneisen.
Briarcrest 80, Springfield SH-Griffin 61
Briarcrest (11-2) found itself trailing 15-0 early, but regained its composure and fought back to build a 40-32 halftime lead against Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin. Briarcrest senior Nate Vaughn exploded for 29 points and senior Will Hrubes contributed 15. Griffin got 21 points from Okwuegbunam and 15 from Andrews.