OKAWVILLE
BY JACK BULLOCK
Like a Charles Dickens novel, the Okawville Rockets have always had “Great Expectations.”

Unfortunately for head coach Jon Kraus and his program, despite winning a lot of regular season games and championships recently, the post-season hasn't been kind to one of the top 1A programs in Illinois.

The Rockets have shown that they can play with anyone on any given night, beating teams much larger than themselves in enrollment.

They won all three of their regular season tournaments last season and were 28-5 against a “who's who” of southern Illinois teams.

However at the end, they found themselves going home without a trip to Peoria, which of course is the ultimate goal.

Nemesis Waterloo Gibault, a team they had handily beat back in January, topped the Rockets, 48-40, in the 1A White Hall-North Greene Sectional.

Could this finally be the year???

The Rockets have two of the top 1A players in the state returning for a final try and state tournament redemption.

Six-foot-four scoring ace Noah Frederking (20.4 p.p.g., 8.2 r.p.g.) returns after having led the Rockets in scoring the past three seasons.

This special player has put together a dream prep career that has several more games remaining. He is approaching 2,000 career points and should shatter the school's all-time scoring mark by season's end.

Frederking came up big in three title games last season, scoring 24-points in a win over 1A powerhouse Woodlawn to win the Carlyle Kaskaskian Tournament.

He scored 22-points in the Mater Dei Holiday Tournament title game win over Breese Central.

Although he only netted 12-points in a win over Waterloo Gibault in the title game of their own invitational tournament, that game was over by halftime as the Rockets led by as many as 30-points in the win.

He has committed to playing at the University of Evansville next year for head coach Marty Simmons.

Six-foot-three senior Shane Ganz (11.8 p.p.g.) also returns as these two will form a 1-2 punch not many teams will be able to defend.

Ganz, with a good senior season, will reach 1,000-points for his prep run.

Coach Kraus graduated four senior players from a year ago; Alec Wisneski, Brad Fuhrhop, Brendan Killion and Mason Drury.

All were contributors to the success in the past two seasons.

Like most successful programs, the Rockets have talented newcomers every season.

Seven kids coming back played enough to earn a shot at starting this season.

Five-foot-nine senior Logan Riechmann, 6-foot-6 senior Kirklen Meier, 6-foot senior Drew Frederking, 5-foot-9 senior Josh Madrid, 6-foot-1 junior Caleb Frederking, 5-foot-9 junior Payten Harre and 6-foot-6 junior Luke Hensler will help make the Rockets an even bigger threat to reach the promised land of Peoria's Carver Arena.

“We will be a very deep team playing up to 10 kids. We will be quick and athletic with some decent size this year,” said Coach Kraus, who begins his 17th season as head coach at Okawville. “Size has been lacking in the past but we are bigger this season. We have some kids who can really shoot the ball and two really good scorers. We will have to rebound and play defense better this year for us to compete in the post season. This team has potential to make a post season run but it may take some time with several new starters on varsity.”
2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULES
N25-D2 Carlyle Kaskaskian Classic J15-20 Okawville Invitational Tournament

D5

@ Sesser-Valier J26 Columbia
D8 Campbell Hill Trico J27 @ Lebanon
D12 @ Greenville J30 @ Freeburg
D15 Steeleville F2 @ Roxana
D21 Waterloo Gibault Catholic F9 @ Red Bud
D26-29 Breese Mater Dei Holiday Tournament F13 Sparta
J6 @ Nashville F16 @ Breese Central
J9 Waltonville F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD
J12 Trenton Wesclin F25-M2 IHSA Sectional TBD