Okawville tops Sparta
Rockets' big third quarter provides spread for road win; Heckert nets 21-points

SPARTA - For the Okawville Rockets on Tuesday in their road game against Sparta, priority one was to g
et the ball inside to their big man while also working for the best percentage shot possible.

Six-foot-seven junior center Jackson Heckert took control in the paint for Coach Jon Kraus, scoring 21-points, with nearly all coming within a few feet of the basket as the Rockets used a 9-0 third quarter run to get away from the host Bulldogs for a 55-47 win Tuesday night.

While most teams spend a significant time during contests toeing the 3-point line, Okawville did its best work inside of the arc.

They attempted just six 3-point shots and missed them all.

However the Rockets netted 20-of-33 from inside the arc to help improve their record 16-10 on the season.

Sophomore guard Jacksen Harre added 11-points for Okawville while sophomore Lucas Frederking added eight-points.

“I was a little disappointed in the first quarter. I didn't think we came out a lot of intensity and toughness early in the game but we settled down and the second quarter was a little bit better,” said Coach Kraus. “We kind of got better as the game went on. We did a better job of getting Jackson (Heckert) established in the middle. We got him to post the way we wanted him to do and we found him in there a couple of times. The guys did a better job adjusting in the second half.”

Coach Jon Norton saw his Bulldogs slip to 11-17 for the season after battling to a 21-21 tie at halftime.

But his club came out a bit flat in the second half, missing their first four shots and committing six of their ten turnovers in the quarter as they fell behind.

Sparta was led by 5-foot-10 junior Carlos Keen who topped all scorers with 22-points.

Six-foot-three freshman Dawson Algee added 12-points for the Bulldogs.

Heckert put his team on his back in the third quarter, scoring eight of his points.

He converted a pair of conventional three-point plays and even stepped out and canned a 15-foot shot near the foul line.

Frederking added a basket in the second half run on an assist from Harre for a 30-21 lead.

Sparta came up empty on their first seven second half possessions.

When Heckert converted the second of his “And-One's” the Rockets led 33-23 with 2:49 left in the third.

“It was a big turning point. We talk about 'the way you start the game and the way you start the third quarter' being a big determining factor the way it ended. Lately we have been getting off to a good start in the third quarter but tonight they kind of put it to us and we were never able to totally regain what we lost there,” said Coach Norton.

Sparta's best run of the game came early with Algee, Keen and senior Jayden Anderson all producing first quarter points as the Bulldogs got out to a 13-6 lead at the end of the first.

Anderson nailed a 3-pointer against the Okawville zone defense for the first Bulldogs' bucket while Algee scored inside and added a couple of foul shots.

Keen drove the right side of the lane to beat the first period horn for a seven-point Sparta lead.

The Rockets, after a 2-of-8 beginning of the game, got much better looks in the second frame.

Six-consecutive points (three baskets) from Heckert, Harre and senior guard Wyatt Krohne cut the deficit to just 13-12.

Six-foot-four senior forward Will Aubel ended up with five-points on the night, with three of them coming on a rebound bucket while being fouled.

That gave the Rockets their first lead since the early going at 17-16.

Anderson scored on a 3-pointer, his second of the contest, and Keen converted a transition score as the Bulldogs evened the score heading to intermission.

“Jacksen Harre played an excellent game for us tonight. That was the best game he has played all year. He was aggressive and he made shots tonight,” said Coach Kraus. “(Mason) Meyer came off the bench for us and he scored a bucket or two. He is starting to play better and better for us and if we can get some of his length (6-foot-4 sophomore) in there it will give us some more depth.”

Heckert opened the fourth quarter with more inside points and he, and the rest of his teammates, took care of business from the foul line the rest of the way.

Forced to press, Sparta overplayed in desperation which gave the Rockets scoring opportunities.

The Rockets made the hosts pay with a pair of easy scores by Heckert as he took a couple of passes from Frederking for points.

“He (Heckert) is a nice player and we obviously didn't have an answer for him. And I think a lot of teams (they play) are in the same boat. Give them (Okawville) credit, they move the ball around so well. They reverse the ball and you get around him and then the post him on the other side. He is such a big body it is hard to get around him,” said Coach Norton. “When he catches it in there he is almost automatic. When you give a guy like him 10 of 12 looks a night from about two feet, it's going to be hard to beat that team.”

Coach Norton's club made one final run at the Rockets with Keen and Algee each scoring.

When Keen converted a fast break attempt, the Bulldogs trailed just 51-46.

They got the ball back and had two chances to cut the score down to one possession.

However both Algee and junior Kerry Harris missed shots.

After Frederking hit 1-of-2 from the line, Sparta committed a costly turnover on their next trip down the floor.

The Rockets took care of the rest.

Okawville ended up 15-of-19 from the foul line for the game.

Frederking (6-of-8) and Harre (4-of-4) combined for 10-of-12 from the stripe in the fourth quarter to close out the win.

The Bulldogs ended up just 13-of-36 overall from the floor (37.1 percent) and only 4-of-15 from the 3-point line.

They ended up a pretty good 17-of-23 from the foul line.

The Rockets ended up with a 22-17 rebounding edge.

Okawville will close out their regular season with a make up game against ABV 1A Jacksonville Supersectional area top-ranked Madison on Wednesday night.

The Madison game is the finale of the Okawville Invitational Tournament that was snowed out from January 19.

The Rockets then have a home game against longtime rival Breese Central on Friday night.

Okawville's postseason journey, as they try to defend their 1A state title, begins next week at the 1A Marissa-Coulterville Regional with a game against Lebanon on Tuesday night.

Sparta will face Anna-Jonesboro at home on Friday night and they travel a few miles to their southwest to face Chester on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs postseason starts next Wednesday at the 2A Chester Regional where they will play West Frankfort.

“We are the type of team that we have to defend well if we are going to win. We're not going to blow the scoreboard up with a lot of points,” said Coach Kraus. “So we have to play both ends and we have to defend well. We mixed our defenses, we played a lot more zone tonight then we usually do but we thought it was something we could use a little bit.”

Okawville (55) – Harre 3 0 5-6 11, Frederking 1 0 6-8 8, Riechmann 0 0 0-0 0, Aubel 2 0 1-1 5, Krohne 1 0 0-0 2, Meyer 2 0 0-0 4, Schilling 2 0 0-0 4, Heckert 9 0 3-4 21.
2FG-20, 3FG-0, FT-15-19, PF-17.

Sparta (47)
– Herbert 1 0 0-0 2, Keen 5 1 9-11 22, Williams 1 0 0-0 2, Stefani 0 1 0-0 3, Parks 0 0 0-0 0, Cometto 0 0 0-0 0, Harris 0 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 2 0-0 6, Algee 2 0 8-12 12.
2FG-9, 3FG-4, FT-17-23, PF-18.

Fouled Out
– Schilling - Okawville; Williams - Sparta.
Technical Fouls
– None.