Mater Dei, Nashville reach NIT title game
Knights take care of Breese Central; Hornets edge Mascoutah
NASHVILLE – The Mater Dei Knights have won six Nashville Invitational Tournament championships in the previous 37 years of the annual event.

Coach Ron Schadegg has his club in the championship game of the 38th edition with a chance at number seven.

The ABV 2A top-ranked team, after a bit of lull in the first two quarters, unleashed a 15-0 run to begin the second half as they sunk their crosstown rivals 64-35 to improve to 2-0 in Pool B.

The win propels BMD into the tourney finale on Saturday night where they will face the host Hornets, who edged Mascoutah 34-30 in the other game on Friday night.

The Knights dominated the stat sheet as they improved to 17-4 overall this season with the win over the Cougars.

Breese Central saw there mark slip to 9-11 on the season and 1-1 in Pool B.

The Knights controlled the second half to set up a rematch with Nashville from the title game of the Mater Dei Holiday Tournament a few weeks ago, which was won by BMD, 47-44.

The real story of the game turned out to be rebounding as Mater Dei commanded a 33-16 edge with 15 of the rebounds coming on the offensive end.

Eight of the offensive boards came in the pivotal third quarter.

The Knights were led by seniors Caleb Zurliene and Jacob Schadegg with 19 points each.

Zurliene, a 6-foot-6 senior, scored 15 of his points in the second half while the 5-foot-10 senior Schadegg scored 12 of his after intermission.

These two led a second half charge that put away Central.

Six-foot-five junior forward Mitchell Haake added 14 points to the barrage.

“That (rebounding) is something that we have needed improvement on and tonight we did a good job,” said Coach Schadegg. “We held them to 13 points at halftime and we stressed a the half was that they are struggling scoring wise so if we can continue to apply pressure on the defensive end we can create some easy opportunities for us.”

Six-foot-three senior Braden Thomas led the Cougars with 13 points while senior Emit Jansen tossed in seven.

Coach Jeremy Shubert saw his club struggle mightily on the offensive end.

Breese Central ended up just 12-of-43 overall and 3-of-17 from the 3-point line.

“That was a killer quarter (third) for us. If we had made a few more shots in the first half it might have made a difference. I thought out defense was sound in the first half but we have to make some shots,” said Coach Shubert. “If we make some shots, that probably sets a different tone for us.”

Despite never having a lead, the Cougars stayed in range of the Knights for most of the first half.

Central only trailed 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, but they could have been ahead at this point had they been able to muster any sort of offensive flow.

They were just 1-of-12 from the floor in the first eight minutes, and that basket came with 1:16 left by Thomas on a rebound.

At this point Mater Dei had already gotten five points from Haake on a score in the lane and a 3-pointer from the left wing.

Zurliene scored his first points on a two-handed slam dunk off an assist from Haake for six point lead.

Following the first of Schadegg's three 3-pointers to begin the second quarter, Central made its only real run by outscoring the Knights 10-2.

Thomas scored while driving to the basket and senior guard Jackson Haag scored his only points of the game on a 3-pointer.

A free throw (1-of-2) and another drive to the basket by Jansen made it 13-12 Mater Dei with 3:56 before the half.

However the Knights closed the second quarter strong for a 20-13 lead at the break.

Schadegg added to his offensive numbers with a score and senior Grant Goebel dropped in a 20 footer to close out the Mater Dei assault in the first half.

The beginning of the third quarter for the Knights proved to be the end of the road for Central.

Fifteen consecutive points pushed the lead to 35-13 with just over five minutes left in the third.

Zurliene hit 5-of-6 free throws in the stretch while Schadegg added another long range bomb, this one from well behind the 3-point arc from the left wing.

Even when the Knights were missing shots, they were picking up the pieces.

Breese Mater Dei collected eight of its offensive rebounds in the third quarter.

The lead reached 46-25 at the end of the quarter as Zurliene added two more buckets to his totals on an offensive rebound put back and a fast break lay in off of a Central turnover.

Senior guard Tanner Gerdes nailed a 3-pointer in the run that put the game out of reach heading to the fourth quarter.

“We weren't ready to play in that third quarter. They came out and got a back door look and it kind of snowballed on us real quick,” said Coach Shubert. “We talked about coming out in the first three minutes (of the third quarter) and dictating tempo. I didn't think we ran very good offense but a lot of it had to do with their pressure. But we didn't cut the way we wanted to like the way we had worked on. It got away from us.”

After scoring five points in the first quarter, Haake added nine more points in the fourth.

He scored twice inside, with one of the scores coming on an assist from Zurliene.

“In the fourth quarter, that was when we kind of gave them the 'knockout punch' with them two (Zurliene, Haake) executing some high-low plays they (Central) didn't have a way to stop it,” said Coach Schadegg. “

Haake, and Schadegg, also hit 3-pointers before both coaches cleared the benches in the final minutes.

“Haake is playing a lot better than he was early in the season because he was hurt. When him a Zurliene are feeding off of one another they are tough to guard,” said Coach Shubert.

Mater Dei ended up 25-of-51 overall and an impressive 8-of-16 from the 3-point line.

The took pretty good care of the ball with just six turnovers.

Coach Shubert's Cougars were guilty of 13 turnovers in the contest as they will now face Mascoutah on Saturday in the third place game.

Both teams were good at the foul line, with Mater Dei hitting 10-of-14 and Central going 8-of-10.

Breese Mater Dei (17-4)
Breese Central (9-11)

Breese Mater Dei (64) – Loepker 0 0 0-0 0, Schadegg 4 3 2-2 19, Gardes 0 1 0-2 3, Goebel 0 2 1-2 7, Napovanice 0 0 0-0 0, Zurliene 7 0 5-6 19, Moss 0 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0 0-0 0, Haake 3 2 2-2 3, Kassan 1 0 0-0 2, Jasper 0 0 0-0 0. 2FG-17, 3FG-8, FT-10-14, PF-9.
Breese Central (35) – Haag 0 1 0-0 3, Thomas 6 0 1-2 13, Baruff 0 1 0-0 3, Jansen 1 0 5-6 7, Becker 0 0 0-0 0, Moore 0 1 0-0 3, Usselmann 0 0 0-0 0, Warnecke 0 0 2-2 2, Strubhart 0 0 0-0 0, Athmer 1 0 0-0 2, Loepker 1 0 0-0 2. 2FG-9, 3FG-3, FT-8-10, PF-8.
Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.