Okawville reaches title game
Noah Frederking leads Rockets with 24-points, 14-rebounds in 63-48 win
PEORIA – Defensively speaking, the Okawville Rockets were on top of their game on Saturday afternoon in the 1A semifinals against Newark.

The ABV top-ranked team is now a win away from being on the "top of the mountain."

Behind 24-points and 14-rebounds from 6-foot-4 senior Noah Frederking and a blanketed shutdown of their opposition, the Rockets will now play in the state title game for the first time in 30-years after they pulled away in the second half for a 63-48 triumph at Carver Arena Friday afternoon.

Coach Jon Kraus saw his club hold Newark tyo just 33.9 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-23 from the 3-point arc in the 63-48 win.

From the opening tap to the final horn, the Rockets rolled to the win to set up a showdown for the championship with the second-ranked ABV team for most of the season.

Effingham St. Anthony took care of Chicago Hope, 43-34 in the first semifinal on Friday.

After spotting the Norsemen an early 2-0 lead, Okawville dominated the rest of the way in improving to 32-3 on the season.

“I'm extremely proud of our guys. They played a really good basketball team and we got off to a good start and that always helps us,” said Coach Kraus. “I thought our defense was really good. They only had four points really deep into the first half. We did an unbelievable job on defense and rebounding. It was a great team effort.”

Shane Ganz, another of the senior vets for Okawville, added 17-points for the cause while guard Caleb Frederking tossed in eight-points.

But the key figures in determining the outcome came on the defensive end of the floor.

Okawville crashed the board in a 38-23 effort, including 28-defensive boards in the win.

The Rockets were stingy on defense while being effective offensively.

When they got to the foul line, they made Newark pay dearly.

Okawville ended up 19-of-23 from the foul line with Noah Frederking nailing 5-of-5 and Ganz going 6-of-7.

The end result was a contest that was no contest for most of the afternoon.

“This year this team has had a way to adjust to how teams want to play us,” said Coach Kraus. “We have been stressing that (rebounding) for the past two or three weeks. We didn't do a great job rebounding in the supersectional (win over Mendon Unity) but I thought we did a better job today finishing off those defensive stops.”

Newark saw its mark slip to 28-5 on the season as they will face Chicago Hope on Saturday morning.

Ganz and Frederking combined for the Rocket's 12-points in the opening quarter.

They each hit 3-pointers and also got scores closer to the basket.

Frederking hit his first of three treys to give the Rockets a 7-2 advantage early.

Ganz scored the final five points as he also canned a 3-point shot and scored on a drive to the basket for a 12-4 first quarter lead.

Ganz added a conventional three-point play and an early free throw in the second quarter.

Baskets by Frederking and Kirklin Meier push the advantage to 20-6 with 3:42 left before the half.

Newark got 17-points from 6-foot-1 junior Dylan Patrick and 12-points from 6-foot-4 senior Will Clausel.

Those two carried most of the load for the Norsemen but it was way too little in the big picture.

Both scored in a second quarter mini run that cut the Rockets' lead to just 24-15 at intermission.

“It was a rough start for us, our worst shooting game all year. A lot of early looks right at the basket, I thought we got pushed a little bit, didn't get the calls, but you have to put those in. If we made five of those, it's a tied game or we're winning it in the first half,” said Newark head coach Rick Tolleffson. “Our all-stater had three fouls in the first half so we had to take him off their all-stater. That really changed the complexion on how we can defend him. We wish we could have played a little better.”

Clausel converted a pair of three-point plays in the middle part of the third quarter to get his club to within 33-27.

Okawville then went on a 9-0 run, or should it be said Noah Frederking went on a 9-0 run.

The senior. who is headed to D-I University of Evansville, hit on a drive to the basket and then nailed four straight free throws.

He closed the burst with a 3-pointer from the right corner for a 42-27 lead with just :26 left in the third.

Newark's Cameron Myre hit a 3-point shot to close the third but Okawville was in command.

Another run, this time with Meier and Ganz doing damage, gave the Rockets a 20-point cushion.

When Meier closed the run with a pair of free throws, the lead was 54-34 with 3:02 left.

Okawville was 20-of-40 overall from the floor, 4-of-12 from the 3-point arc.

“We always stress to the kids that the first three minutes of the half are critical and I felt like a nine-point lead (at the half) that we needed to try and grab back some of the momentum. I thought we dictated the play in the first half,” said Coach Kraus. “It was critical to get back out there and establish ourselves.”

Thirty years ago the Rockets lost to Venice in the, then, Class A state championship game.

The Rockets hope to bring home that first ever boy's basketball state title on Saturday night.

Newark (48) – C. Myre 2 1 0-0 7, Brown 0 0 0-0 0, Patrick 6 1 2-2 17, Clausel 5 0 2-4 12, McGrath 2 0 1-2 5, Jacobson 0 2 1-2 7, B. Myre 0 0 0-0 0, Swanson 0 0 0-0 0, Slivka 0 0 0-0 0, Dierzen 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-15, 3FG-4, FT-6-10, PF-16.

Okawville (63) – N. Frederking 5 3 5-5 24, Meier 2 0 2-2 6, Madrid 0 0 0-0 0, C. Frederking 2 0 4-7 8, Ganz 4 1 6-7 17, Harre 2 0 0-0 4, Aubel 0 0 0-0 0, L. Riechmann 0 0 0-0 0, Krohne 0 0 0-0 0, Hensler 0 0 0-0 0, D. Frederking 1 0 0-0 2, Roesner 0 0 2-2 2, P. Riechmann 0 0 0-0 0, Schilling 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-16, 3FG-4, FT-19-23, PF-12.

Fouled Out – Clausel - Newark.
Technical Fouls – None.
St. Anthony edges Hope
Bulldogs take care of business, reach first ever state title game
PEORIA - This has been a very interesting postseason run for the Effingham St. Anthony Bulldogs to say the least.

Coach Cody Rincker has seen his team escape defeat in different ways as they now find themselves in a state championship game.

The Bulldogs overcame 19-turnovers and some free throw shooting issues in their first game played at Carver Arena in Peoria on Friday afternoon.

In Chicago Hope Academy, they faced a faster, more athletic team that was higher ranked in the state polls and the favorites to get to the championship game.

But these odds, like the many other obstacles that have been on the thorny road to the championship game, were just another hurdle that the Bulldogs cleared.

St. Anthony outplayed Chicago Hope when it counted, grinding their way past the Eagles into the state championship game, 43-34 in the first 1A semifinal game.

“It speaks to team and our willingness to stick to a game plan, to understand what it would take to make us successful and giving credit to the boys to put that (plan) into action,” said Coach Rincker. “It sounds great if I say it, but if it doesn't work then we aren't sitting here. It's a credit to their willingness.”

This team now stands at 29-5 and will face Okawville on Saturday in the first ever match up of the top two ABV 1A teams in a state final.

The Rockets bested Newark, 63-48, the second semifinal game on Friday.

Since January 1, the Rockets and Bulldogs have been the top two squads in the ABV rankings and it is fitting that the two tradition rich programs get to share the spotlight on Saturday afternoon.

Coach Rincker's squad has figured out ways to win all the way to the final game and Friday's win over third ranked Hope (in the final regular season AP Poll) they persevered.

Leading scorer on the season, 6-foot-3 senior Drew Gibson, was held to just six-points.

But the forward grabbed a team-best nine-rebounds to contribute to the win.

Six-foot-two junior Adam Levitt scored 16-points for St. A, with a 10-of-15 showing from the foul line helping to make the difference.

Then you have 6-foot-2 junior Alex Deters, who netted 11-points which included a pair of huge fourth quarter baskets as the Bulldogs were protecting a lead.

When you add up all of the numbers, the result is a nine-point, low scoring win and a spot in the 2017 1A state title game.

Hope Academy head coach Antwon Johnson got just one player in double-figures as 6-foot-6 senior Jordan Doss scored just 10-points, which was well below his 18.5 scoring average.

Javion May and Javari McClendon added seven and six-points respectively for the Eagles, both of which also less than they had produced during the season up to this point.

Chicago Hope (28-4) came into the game higher ranked and on an 18-game winning streak, but the Eagles never really got their offensive attack off of the ground.

In a game that had some pretty ugly moments, the Bulldogs kept to the game plan of not getting into a track meet with Chicago Hope.

Fighting against a trapping zone defense, St. Anthony kept their calm once again in a big game.

Getting early scores from Levitt in the first quarter was important as he managed to get behind the Hope defense to get into the lane.

He scored a basket on a drive and added 3-of-4 free throws in two trips to tie the game early at 7-7.

Teammates Jack Nuxoll and Cade Walsh each scored to close out the first quarter for an 11-9 Bulldogs lead.

Neither player scored another point in what would normally spell doom for this team as both are major cogs in the wheel.

However on this afternoon, the rest of the group all played their parts.

Coach Johnson and his Hope Academy club got a 16-13 lead thanks to a 7-2 run to begin the second quarter.

Two of the baskets came in transition off of St. Anthony turnovers along with 3-of-4 free throws for a three-point lead at the 5:10 mark of the second quarter.

The Bulldogs rallied with Deters getting to the basket for a three-point play and Levitt grabbed one of his four rebounds for a put back and a 20-18 lead.

A pair of free throws by McClendon send the teams to the half at 20-all.

“I knew if we continued at that pace that they were playing at, it would be to their advantage. We made a few mistakes down the stretch and that hurt us,” said Coach Johnson. “They had a good game plan, they know that Jordan Doss is our focal player and they did a great job on him.”

Gibson, who netted 32-points in the Bulldogs come-from-behind supersectional win over Woodlawn on Tuesday night, didn't score his first points until the 1:05 mark of the third quarter.

His basket followed a score from Levitt which erased a brief 24-23 Hope lead.

The Eagles, just like the Bulldogs, had chances at the foul line but were unable to convert.

The finished just 6-of-16 overall from the line and May missed two straight in the third quarter that proved costly as St. Anthony took back the lead.

May grabbed a rebound and drove to the basket for a lay in and a 28-27 lead in the first minute of the final quarter.

Six-foot-five junior forward Alex Beesley added seven-points for the Bulldogs and his two free throws gave the lead back to St. Anthony at 29-28.

Hope had one final lead, a 30-29 advantage on the next possession as 6-foot-7 senior Ajani Parker scored in the lane.

This would be the final advantage for the Eagles as they fell into the third place game against Newark to be played on Saturday.

A drive to the goal for a score by Deters got the lead back and the Bulldogs struggles from the foul line disappeared during the closing run into the championship game.

Deters added another driving score and he and his partners in crime took the game away from Hope by converting 10-of-12 foul shots in the final 2:04.

The Eagles added to their misery by missing their last four 3-point attempts as they didn't score a point in the final 1:34.

The game summary wasn't pretty offensively for either club.

The Bulldogs were just 12-of-33 overall from the field (36.4 percent) while missing all five of their 3-point attempts.

Hope Academy was even worse from the floor, connecting on just 14-of-48 overall (29.2 percent) and 0-of-13 from the arc.

“I give all the glory to God, just for this situation and for our team. We definitely had a fun time, it's been a great season. It's disappointing, the loss, obviously to anyone who makes the Final Four. Our kids have been so resilient all year, all the time, we're just looking forward to tomorrow,” said Coach Johnson.

The key stat on explaining how the Bulldogs managed to win this contest came mostly from the defensive end.

Coach Rincker's club out rebounded the taller, athletic Eagles, 37-31 as all eight of the Bulldogs who played had at least one rebound.

“We are not always a dominating rebounding type team but we make up for it in other ways. I thought today we did it with 'heart' as we were able to find ways to get the rebounds,” said Coach Rincker. “That is a very talented rebounding team.”

Effingham St. Anthony and Okawville have three common opponents from the 2016-17 season.

Each hold a two-point win over 3A regional champion Breese Central while Okawville has beaten both Flora and Breese Mater Dei this season.

The Bulldogs topped Flora in route to the championship of the Vandalia Holiday Tournament championship last December.

Mater Dei beat the Bulldogs handily during a January funk in which St. Anthony closed the regular season by losing 4-of-their-last-6 games.

But Coach Rincker's club is on a six-game winning streak heading into the title tilt.

“We are obviously proud of the accomplishment (championship game) and we are humbled a little bit because there have been a lot of great teams and players that have played here,” said Coach Rincker. “There have been a lot of great coaches here that have also had great success but not had the opportunity. It is something that we appreciate but the boys also have high expectations. Both in the classroom and on the court.

Effingham St. Anthony
Chicago Hope
Effingham St. Anthony (43) – Gibson 1 0 4-7 6, Beesley 2 0 0-0 6, Walsh 1 0 0-0 2, Deters 4 0 3-4 11, Levitt 3 0 10-15 16, Ludwig 0 0 0-0 0, Nuxoll 1 0 0-2 2, Runge 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-12, 3FG-0, FT-19-30, PF-15.

Chicago Hope (34) – Doss 5 0 0-0 10, McClendon 2 0 2-4 6, Parker 2 0 1-2 5, May 3 0 1-6 7, Rodriguez 0 0 0-2 0, Robinson 1 0 0-0 2, Essex 0 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0 0-0 0, Mullen 0 0 0-0 0, Hilton 0 0 0-0 0, Ross 1 0 2-2 2, Wilson 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-14, 3FG-0, FT-6-16, PF-26.

Fouled Out – May - Chicago Hope.
Technical Fouls – None.