Nokomis rolls past EAWR
Redskins win fifth straight game, 59-24, Record now stands at 6-5
WOOD RIVER - The Nokomis Redskins' boy's basketball program is one of the few in the state that doesn't participate in a holiday tournament.

So coming into this week, Coach Steve Kimbro's club hadn't played a game since December 20th.

After a very “sluggish” 39-24 win over Litchfield on Tuesday night, the Redskins traveled to East Alton-Wood River for a make up game from December 13th.

And for the first few minutes of the game Nokomis was still a “rusty” looking team, missing its first six field goal attempts as they trailed EAWR 4-0 with just over four minutes to go in the open quarter.

However within a few minutes, the Redskins found their “groove.”

Nokomis, after a bad shooting beginning, hit 62 percent of its field goal attempts the rest of the game.

Led by 6-foot-1 senior guard Alex Tosetti and 6-foot-8 senior center Carter Sabol, the Redskins made quick work of the hosts with a 59-24 win that prompted a “mercy rule” continuous clock in the fourth quarter.

Tosetti tossed in 23 points, featuring three 3-pointers, two of which occurred in the second quarter.

Sabol added 16 points and seven rebounds as the Redskins' routed the Oilers.

Five other players netted points for Coach Kimbro's club, who are now riding a five-game winning streak after a 1-5 beginning of 2019-20.

“We hadn't played since the 20th (of December) and we played last night and we were really flat. We came out this evening and didn't score for four minutes. But then we finally got it turned around,” said Coach Kimbro. “We started adjusting and got some 2-on-1's and some fast breaks and over the Christmas break we worked on applying some full court pressure and three-quarter court adjustments. We still are not reacting well off of the ball but we have two months to correct it.”

On the opposite end of that spectrum is East Alton-Wood River.

After sitting 4-5 after their first nine games, head coach Steve Flowers and his squad are now on a seven-game losing skid.

Only one player; 6-foot senior Jake Wells, hit for double-digits in scoring (11) in defeat.

Sophomore guard Antonio Hardin added six points for the Oilers, who are now 0-2 in the Prairie State Conference while the Redskins improved 2-1 in the league.

“We wanted to force it into the middle and even when we had someone open they (Nokomis) were still deflecting the passes,” said Coach Flowers. “They have been taught to keep their hands out and they do such a good job and it makes it difficult to get the passes to where you want them to go. When they extend it that is where they get their transition going.”

After two early buckets by Wells, things didn't go well for the host club.

He scored right off of the opening tip as he raced for a loose ball and scored just seconds into the contest.

Wells followed that up with a steal and a fast break lay in as the Oilers struck first.

Nokomis didn't score its first basket until 3:43 left in the opening quarter when Sabol finally got a shot to fall.

Then Tosetti scored his first two baskets on runner on the baseline and then finished a fast break off of an EAWR turnover.

Those two baskets gave Nokomis a 6-4 lead.

The Redskins never trailed again.

Coach Flowers' club got a nice three-point play from a drive by Hardin to get back within one point at 8-7, but Nokomis scored the last points of the period on a nice back door cut to the basket by senior Nick Mascher on an assist from junior Evan Herpstreith for a 10-7 lead at the first horn.

An 11-2 run by Nokomis to begin the second quarter basically took the air out of the hosts.

Sabol scored four of the points while Tosetti also added a basket.

Six-foot sophomore Jake Johnson grabbed and offensive rebound off of a missed Sabol free throw and his score in the lane pushed the lead to 22-9.

Ryan Dawson, a 6-foot-4 junior for EAWR, scored off of one of the few Nokomis turnovers in transition.

Then Tosetti started a new offensive run by Nokomis to close the half.

He nailed two consecutive 3-pointers, one from the right corner and then the next time from the left corner.

His third basket in succession came on a pull up jumper from near the free throw line.

Sabol closed the first half scoring with a nice move in the lane for a left handed lay in as the Redskins went to the half up 32-13.

“He (Tosetti) got hot in the second quarter, he buried a couple of three's, he penetrated and that is what we need,” said Coach Kimbro. “And we need that because everyone collapses on Carter (Sabol). He (Sabol) needs to be more active around the basket and he was in the second half. He is capable of hitting 15 to 20 footers, but he needs to realize that is his secondary shot. And sometimes he wants to make that his primary shot.”

East Alton-Wood River managed two baskets in the third quarter; a 3-pointer from junior Ahmad Allen and another 3-pointer from Wells.

The rest of the stanza belonged to Nokomis as they laid the outcome to rest.

Sabol once again showed dominance in the paint with two more baskets.

He took a nice assist from Tosetti on one of the scores and then scored on a nice fade away jumper in the lane.

Tosetti took a long rebound and finished a fast break lay in to force an EAWR time out at 38-16 with 4:56 left in the third.

Nokomis closed the quarter with another flourish, with Tosetti closing his scoring binge for the evening.

He and 6-foot-1 junior Seth Johnson both hit 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the floor.

Then Tosetti ended the frame with a couple of transition scores, closing the run on an assist from Johnson on a lob pass for a lay in and a 48-19 lead heading into the final period.

A bucket by Herpstreith triggered the continuous clock as reserves closed out the contest.

The Redskins ended up an impressive 26-of-48 from the floor after the rough start, hitting 54.1 percent overall in the victory.

They crushed the Oilers on the glass with a 28-12 rebounding edge, which included 13 offensive rebounds and they committed just three turnovers in the game.

“That (low turnovers) is good to see. Early in the year we gave opponents too many opportunities. Our level of intensity was much better tonight then it was last night,” said Coach Kimbro.

Nokomis forced East Alton-Wood River into 12 turnovers and a 10-of-32 (31.2 percent) shooting night.

They were just 3-of-15 from the arc as they failed to solve the Nokomis “1-2-2” zone trap that has been the Redskins trademark for the past 39 seasons under Coach Kimbro.

“I tell everyone that they (Nokomis) have run this defense since about kindergarten, they always run it really effectively. When you put a 6-8 guy down at the bottom of it makes it ten times more difficult,” said Coach Flowers. “He (Coach Kimbro) has been coaching this defense for 39 years now and he just does a phenomenal job with it.”

Coach Kimbro announced his retirement effective at the end of the 2019-20 season.

The long time mentor has a current mark of 822-302 for his career at Nokomis and under his leadership, the program has thrived.

The Redskins own 15 regional titles, five sectional titles, four supersectional titles along with a second and third place finish during his tenure.

After not playing in a Christmas tournament, Nokomis has a lot of games to play in January.

After a game this coming Friday against Lincolnwood, the Redskins will participate in back-to-back tournaments; the Morrisonville Mohawk Invitational followed by the Litchfield Invitational.

The Oilers don't play in a mid-winter tournament and will be off until Saturday when they host 3A Waterloo.

Then next week they will play home games against Litchfield and Dupo before going on the road to Vandalia.

“We have been on a rough, rough patch but I thought we played better tonight early,” said Coach Flowers, who took over this job just two weeks before preseason practice began. “We are coming out strong but it's always in the middle of the game that these teams go on runs against us. We just have find a way to fight out of it. I feel like we are getting better. We started late and it looks like they (the kids) are starting to grow and improve.”

Prairie State Conference
East Alton-Wood River
Nokomis (59) – Sabol 7 0 2-5 16, Tosetti 7 3 0-0 23, Mascher 2 0 0-0 4, Herpstreith 3 0 0-0 6, S. Johnson 0 1 0-0 3, K. Knodle 0 0 0-0 0, J. Johnson 2 0 1-2 5, Engelman 0 0 0-0 0, Bertolino 1 0 0-0 2, Aumann 0 0 0-0 0, T. Knodle 0 0 0-0 0. 2FG-22, 3FG-4, FT-3-7, PF-5.
East Alton-Wood River (24) – Barach 0 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0 0-0 0, Allen 0 1 0-0 3, Dawson 1 0 0-0 2, Oliger 0 0 0-0 0, Wells 4 1 0-0 11, Reef 0 0 0-0 0, Hardin 1 1 1-1 6, Merritt 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-7, 3FG-3, FT-1-1, PF-5.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.