Chester defends home turf
Yellow Jackets get 22-points from Savion Smith, win 58-45 over Steeleville

- Chester senior guard Savion Smith turned in a stellar performance on Thursday night against Randolph County rival Steeleville.

And for the third time in as many tries, Smith and his Yellow Jackets' teammates were a rough match up for the Warriors.

Behind 22-points from Smith, including 10-points in the final quarter, the Yellow Jackets pulled away for a 58-45 win at home.

Smith scored most of his points on a drives to the basket and his teammates helped put away the visitors by hitting 10-of-14 free throws in the final 3:56 of the contest to hold on to the win.

Coach Brad Norman's club conquered their own early mistakes to improve to 16-8 on the season.

Josh Haberberger added 10-points for the hosts while Demontae Martin and Jacob Golding, both senior starters, added nine-points apiece.

Jake Haberberger tossed home eight-points in the win.

But it was Smith who turned out to be the difference as the Warriors couldn't contain the 6-foot-2 veteran backcourt player.

“He (Smith) has been doing this more and more as the season has gone on. We have kind of put it on his shoulders to be more aggressive in getting to the basket, to be aggressive and make good decisions,” said Coach Norman. “He did a good job of that again tonight for us. Ninety percent of his battle has been staying on the floor (foul trouble) as he has picked up some silly fouls and we have to sit him. We try to get the ball into his hands as much as possible. He also saw some double-teams tonight and he was able to kick it out for some good looks outside for us.”

Steeleville had many chances on the night, especially early, but head coach Bryce Bainter saw his club provide little in the way of offense from the very beginning.

Missing their first eight shots from the floor and still managing to stay close at the end of the first quarter, Steeleville failed to get on track, as they fell to 17-9 on the season.

RJ Smith, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, ended up with 17-points for Steeleville but he turned out to be the only Warrior on the offensive warpath.

Andrew Grafton tossed in eight-points, all in the first half for the Warriors while Reid Frederking added seven.

“I don't know how many missed layups we had tonight but it was a bunch. We had some good looks at the basket but we just couldn't get anything to fall,” said Coach Bainter. “But I didn't think we guarded their ball screens very well, either. But when you shoot that poorly from the floor, especially when you get good looks at the basket, it makes it frustrating.”

On the other side, the Yellow Jackets had some problems early as well, hitting just 3-of-14 shots in the opening quarter.

The numbers showed a combined 6-of-26 for the "frigid" shooting for both teams.

Four of the made shots were 3-pointers, two each by each club.

Chester's Haberberger connected first, nailing his trey from the left wing.

But Grafton hit one of the Warriors long-range shots and a bucket on the right baseline by Smith gave the visitors a brief 8-6 advantage.

Seconds after the Smith score for Steeleville, Chester got the ball up the court Jake Haberberger, who beat the buzzer for a 9-8 Yellow Jackets' lead.

A tip-in rebound bucket by Savion Smith for Chester and a 3-pointer by Grafton, his second bomb of the game, evened the score at 11-all with 6:43 to go before the half.

That was the final tie as Chester took control with a big second quarter and eventual game winning run.

Chester outgunned the Warriors 13-3 to close the half with five different players scoring.

Smith and Martin scored back-to-back baskets to begin the run.

Following a 3-pointer from Steeleville's Dusty Sutton, the Yellow Jackets scored the last 11-points.

Jake Haberberger and Martin scored just :06 apart with Haberberger scoring on a drive in the lane and then Martin made a steal with Chester in a full-court press and he drove for a score for a 19-14 lead.

Golding also scored as the Yellow Jackets continued to attack the basket.

After the seventh turnover of the quarter by Steeleville, Chester closed the half with a score from Josh Haberberger as Coach Norman's team led 24-14 at the break.

The Warriors produced one scoring run in the contest, a 9-0 jump start coming out of the intermission.

After a Chester score from Golding, Frederking scored five of his points as he hit a pair of free throws and he added a conventional three-point play while being fouled in the paint by Savion Smith.

These point were wrapped around a score on a rebound by RJ Smith that cut the Chester lead to 26-21 with 5:41left.

Smith got his second score in the run, again in the paint as Steeleville was nearing an offensive comfort level at last trailing by just three-points.

This run, and their overall offensive recharge, last as the Warriors finished the quarter with six more turnovers.

Chester closed out third with Smith hitting 1-of-2 charity tosses before scoring consecutive shots driving down the baseline from each side of the floor.

Martin then took an assist from Smith as he spotted up in the right corner for a 20-footer and a 34-25 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

The offenses perked up both ends of the court in the final eight minutes.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, they couldn't cut into the lead enough.

A 3-pointer to begin the fourth quarter from Smith got Steeleville to within 34-28.

That was the last hurrah as Savion Smith got his game going again to finish off the win.

He scored the next eight-points for Chester, all in close.

Three buckets on drives and a tip-in of a missed Golding shot made it 40-32.

He followed that up with a nice reverse lay in, which gave the Yellow Jackets a 10-point spread.

Smith turned into an assist man with a pair of passes to Golding for scores as the Chester run concluded at 46-32 with 3:42 to go.

Free throw shooting by the Yellow Jackets, who ended up missing a bunch early, closed the game out late.

Chester hit 6-of-7 in one stretch and then hit its final four tosses for the triumph.

Steeleville was just 15-of-46 (32.6 percent) from the field overall, 6-of-17 from the arc.

Coach Bainter's club was out-rebounded 32-28 but they gave up 10-crucial offensive boards.

The 17-turnovers proved too much of a burden.

The Yellow Jackets ended up 21-of-48 (43.7 percent) with 4-of-10 from the 3-point line and they finished with 13-turnovers, but just two in the final eight minutes as they protected the basketball and the lead.

“I thought that we could use our press (three-quarter) and bother them and I think we frustrated their big kids inside,” said Coach Norman. “We were giving up about five inches in height for bot Savion and Golding inside, but I thought we were stronger in there than they were. Our defense held us in the game early.”

Both clubs have work to do as they have games to finish the regular season in the next ten days.

Steeleville will host Trico on Friday night and they close out the campaign
at home against New Athens on February 17.

The Warriors need a win over New Athens to clinch at least a tie for the Cahokia Conference Kaskaskia Division.

Chester has four games remaining on the slate starting with a February 11 game at Trico followed by three home games next week; against Goreville on Tuesday night, Sesser-Valier on Friday night and the season finale at home against Sparta.

“With him (Smith) you kind of want to keep him out of the lane because he is so athletic and strong. He was able to get going offensively and that really hurt us because we don't have anyone to match up with him,” said Coach Bainter. “For us it has to be a team effort to stop him and that wasn't there tonight.”

Steeleville (45) – Sutton 0 1 0-0 3, Grafton 1 2 0-1 8, Gross 1 1 0-0 5, Frederking 2 0 3-3 7, Smith 4 2 3-4 17, Valleroy 2 0 1-2 5, Conway 0 0 0-0 0, Ebers 0 0 0-0 0, Whittenborn 0 0 0-0 0, Mevert 0 0 0-0 0, Stearns 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-9, 3FG-6, FT-7-10, PF-18.

Chester (58) – Jake Haberberger 1 1 3-4 8, Reith 0 0 0-0 0, Cushman 0 0 0-0 0, Josh Haberberger 0 2 4-4 10, Martin 2 1 2-2 9, Smith 10 0 2-6 22, Bollman 0 0 0-0 0, Heffernan 0 0 0-2 0, Golding 4 0 1-4 9.
2FG-17, 3FG-4, FT-12-22, PF-15.

Fouled Out – Frederking - Steelevillle.
Technical Fouls – None.