Falling behind Okawville and then fouling star junior Noah Frederking is typically a recipe for disaster for Rockets’ opponents.
That theory held true again Monday before a standing-room-only crowd at the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament as Frederking piled up 29 points — including 12 on fourth-quarter free throws — in a 58-49 victory over Mater Dei.
Frederking isn’t one to shy away from the spotlight. The 29-point night left him only 41 points away from breaking the tourney’s career scoring record that has stood since 1970.
With two games remaining he could do it this year.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Frederking is a Division I prospect that can score from anywhere and is just as comfortable launching 3-pointers as he is driving to the rim.
“It was really intense, the crowd was in it the whole game,” Frederking said. “They fed us, we played harder when they got into the game. It was just a great atmosphere to play in. I love this tournament.
“It’s one of the bigger tournaments we’re in, so it’s time to shine.”
Frederking hit two early 3-pointers and the Rockets (11-1) also got threes in the first quarter from Alec Wisneski and Mason Drury on the way to a 14-8 lead. They pushed that lead to 25-14 at the half and 40-25 after three quarters, with Shane Ganz draining a huge 3-pointer just ahead of the third-quarter buzzer.
“When we hit the threes, they got out of the zone and then we could spread them out and go one-on-one,” said Frederking, who has no trouble passing up shots to find open teammates. “They’re known for that. They can shoot the ball and it’s great when I can kick it out and they hit shots for me.”
Mater Dei (6-2) pushed the Rockets hard in the second half trying to ignite a comeback with tight defense that forced 12 turnovers. However, the combination of seven Okawville 3-pointers and Frederking’s 12-of-17 performance at the foul line proved to be too much.
Ganz added 11 points for the Rockets and Alec Wisneski had nine. Okawville lost starter Brad Fuhrhop to an ankle injury with 3:11 remaining.
The marathon fourth quarter featured mostly officiating whistles and trips to the foul line with short bursts of play in between.
“I don’t know about you guys, but was that not the longest fourth quarter in the history of basketball?” asked Okawville coach Jon Kraus. “Every time I looked up there was five minutes to go. They got after us and pressured us and we didn’t handle it very well, to be honest with you.
“But we hung on and we won, we battled through it. We got some stops and got some rebounds when we needed to. Those are good things I guess, but we’ve definitely got to handle pressure better than that.”
Second-seeded Okawville moved to 3-0 in Pool B but faces another tough opponent in rival Nashville at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“I think this is one of the best atmospheres for high school basketball,”said Kraus, a standout player at Okawville High and later McKendree University. “I played in the championship game here when I was in school, played in big games here, coached in big games here...it’s just great.
“Our kids have been involved in enough of those the last couple years that I knew they wouldn’t be scared, it was just whether we’d execute enough to come out on top. We did for the most part.”
The same couldn’t be said for the Knights.
They were 15-for-52 from the floor (29 percent), including 6-of-22 from 3-point range (27.3 percent). Both teams also had 16 turnovers.
Mater Dei senior Nick Pollmann had 12 points and Spencer Broeckling came off the bench to score 10. The Knights hit just six of 26 shots in the first half.
“We’re looking for offense,” Mater Dei coach Ron Schadegg said after his team fell to 2-1 in Pool B. “We’ve got five seniors starting the game, it was like we’re playing one-against-five because the only guy that wants to go to the basket or create and do things was Pollmann.
“We’ve got to make some adjustments with our kids. We’ve got to be a little more aggressive going to the basket and have some more confidence in ourselves.”