Don’t blame the Gibault Hawks for taking a few extra 3-point shots during warmups Tuesday at the Class 1A Jacksonville Super-Sectional.
Two years ago, the Hawks were favored coming into their basketball super-sectional game against Mendon Unity at the Jacksonville Bowl and promptly missed their first 18 3-point tries while also struggling defensively during a painful 67-59 defeat.
“They had about three times as many people there as we did and it was pretty loud,” recalled Gibault senior Brian Deterding, who missed that season with a foot fracture but remembers the pain of that defeat. “It was pretty awful, I hated it. Every end of the season is bad.”
Gibault (24-9) has another shot at the state tournament and returns to Jacksonville Bowl for a 7 p.m. super-sectional game Tuesday against Liberty (28-4).
“Last time It was a lot longer on the way home than it was up there,” Gibault senior guard Jacob Rueter said. “(Mendon Unity) made everything, they pounded us in the post and matched our athleticism. This time we’re not overlooking anybody. We know Liberty has to be this good, they made it this far.”
Rueter realized many people felt Okawville would be the favorite in the sectional final, but Gibault was still standing after a 48-40 victory. The Hawks beat Okawville twice in three games.
I don’t think people gave us enough credit that we deserve, but they did blow us out by 25 the last game so we kind of deserved it.
Gibault senior Jacob Rueter on the Hawks being the underdog against Okawville in the sectional final.
“I don’t think people gave us enough credit that we deserve, but they did blow us out by 25 the last game so we kind of deserved it,” Rueter said. “We had a strong inside attack. Every time we brought the ball down the court the main objective was to get it to Brian (Deterding) down low.”
State rankings: Liberty was 11th in final 1A poll; Gibault was 14th.
Up next: The winner advances to the 1A state tournament and will play Newark or LeRoy at 12:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals at Peoria.
Last super-sectional appearance: 2014 for Gibault, 2006 for Liberty.
“It’s pretty neat being the last (1A) school around here,” Deterding said. “It would be nice to go to state, we’ve only had one other team do it.”
Previous state tournament experience: Gibault lost to Rock Falls in the 1999 Class A state championship game. Liberty finished fourth at the Class A state tourney in 1981 and 2005.
The Eagles got 35 points and a 21-of-26 performance at the free-throw line Friday from senior Cole Wellman in a 71-62 sectional championship victory over Peoria Quest Academy. Wellman had 10 points in the opening quarter.
“They get to the line because they attack the basket,” Gibault coach Dennis Rueter said of Liberty, which has shot 101 free throws in four playoff victories.
Rueter also said Liberty’s guards will be bigger and more physical than Gibault’s guards. The Eagles also have five senior starters.
You’ve got to take care of the ball against them. They really try to turn you over and they really attack the basket well. Those would be the two biggest things we’ve noticed.
Gibault coach Dennis Rueter on the Liberty Eagles
“You’ve got to take care of the ball against them,” Rueter said. “They really try to turn you over and they really attack the basket well. Those would be the two biggest things we’ve noticed.”
That and all the scoring being done by Reed Wolfmeyer and Wellman. The pair combined for a whopping 57 of Liberty’s 71 points against Quest and Wolfmeyer, who had 22 points Friday, has been the team’s scoring leader much of the season.
Wellmann is averaging 20 points in four playoff games while Wolfmeyer is averaging 18.5.
The 6-foot-5 Deterding has been a massive presence throughout the playoffs and came up big again in the sectional championship win over Okawville with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Deterding (15.5 points and nine rebounds per game, 20 blocked shots), 6-4 junior Trevor Davis (15.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, 41 blocked shots) and 6-5 junior Collin Kessler 5.8 ppg) should give Gibault an inside advantage against the smaller Eagles.
The Hawks also have two outside threats in senior Jacob Rueter (10.6 points and 6 assists per game, 66 3-pointers) and junior Garrett Rueter (5.4 ppg, 53 3-pointers).
“We’ve been shooting it pretty well and pounding it inside, so that makes you feel a little more confident that your game is a little more rounded,” Coach Rueter said. “We’ve got good balance right now in our offense. We’re punching it inside and taking the inside-out threes. Garrett has shot it much better of late and that’s really helped and we’re getting contributions from Collin Kessler more lately.”
Deterding said the presence of Davis inside allows one of them to gain a little more access to the basket on most nights.
“The plan to beat Okawville was to to get the ball to me and Trevor in the post and if they doubled (on either one) to kick it out for three,” Deterding said. “We had them overmatched in the post. Once we started making 3-point shots they couldn’t double us as easily and that made my job easier in the post.”