M-C ends Warriors' league win streak
Meteors top Steeleville, 71-65, tie for first in Kaskaskia Division

- From the opening tap to the final horn, it was clear as day which team was the most ready to play in the Tuesday night matchup between the top two teams in the Kaskaskia Division of the Cahokia Conference.

The Marissa-Coulterville Meteors were the ones who sparkled, especially on the offensive end of the floor.

Coach Scott Wine saw his team jump out to an early lead and kept up the pace for the entire game.

They used another important run in the middle of the fourth quarter and closed the contest out by sinking their free throws, and the host Steeleville Warriors.

With senior guard Kyle Smith leading the way on offense, both scoring and passing, and an efficient handling of their halfcourt offensive chances, the Meteors put an end to the Warriors' two-year 16-game league winning streak with a 71-65 win at Steeleville to even the conference standings at 6-1 each.

After having beaten Marissa-Coulterville 41-27 back on December 9th at M-C, the Warriors could have pretty much clinched the division championship with a victory on their home floor.

But as the game unfolded, the Warriors defense (or lack of) failed to stop Smith and Company.

“I didn't feel like our rotations were there and I didn't think our effort was there tonight,” said Coach Bainter. “I told the guys before the game that they (Marissa-Coulterville) would come in here ready to play. Their only conference loss was to us. We just weren't ready to guard tonight. I give them credit, they made some shots and made some plays but our effort defensively was not there. This (loss) is a tough one to swallow because I didn't think we were ready to play tonight.”

The 5-foot-7 senior leader, who is the school's all-time leading scorer with over 1,900-points, is also the top assist man in the program's history.

He added to that legacy with seven assists to go along with his game-best 22-points.

His 3-point bomb from the left corner followed by a key conventional three-point play at the 3:00 mark of the final frame gave the Meteors a 60-55 lead.

Although Steeleville rallied to get to within two-points on two separate occasions in the final minutes, Marissa-Coulterville held off the Warriors' comeback.

Coach Wine's team hit 12-of-17 free throws (19-of-27 overall) to close out the victory as Steeleville saw its record slip to 14-8 on the season and now 6-1 in the division.

The Meteors improved to 12-8 overall.

“That is what Kyle Smith can do with the ball in his hands. Everyone talks about his scoring but he is the all-time leading assist man at our school. If in the past he had played with better post players there is no telling how many more assists he would have had,” said Coach Wine. “He is not a ball hog by any means. He is looking get it to you.”

Smith scored 13 of his points in the fourth quarter while 6-foot-2 senior teammate Tony Stoddard put together a fine offensive game himself, finishing with 16-points which also included three of his teams' eight 3-pointers.

Senior forward Blaine Knope ended up with 13-points and six-rebounds as he helped get the Meteors going in the opening quarter.

As it turned out early, the Warriors couldn't cope with Knope, as the 6-foot-3 forward nailed a pair of 20-footers to begin the scoring.

When Smith added a mid-range shot, Marissa-Coulterville forced an early Warriors' pow-wow on the bench at 8-0 with just 5:34 left in the first.

Although Steeleville responded with a 9-0 run, the club was never in sync on either end of the floor.

The bright spot offensively on this night for Coach Bainter was 5-foot-11 senior guard Andrew Grafton.

Grafton nailed five 3-point shots for Steeleville and ended up leading the team with 20-points.

He hit one of the trey's during the 9-0 run while 6-foot-3 senior Reid Frederking added 17-points on the night.

This lefty forward did his work in the paint with eight field goals.

“Their plan was to take away Frederking and they doubled him hard. We had some kids step up and make shots, which is what we need but I just didn't think that we guarded tonight very well and that has to get better,” said Coach Bainter.

Frederking hit a pair of those in close shots in the first quarter that ended tied at 13.

The two teams exchanged leads eight times in the second quarter and both squads combined to nail 12 3-pointers in the first half.

Grafton scored seven of his markers in the second quarter, including two more long range shots.

Five-foot-nine senior guard Dusty Sutton scored all five of his points before intermission.

Stoddard hit one of his trifectas in the second quarter as did junior guard Chase Daugherty.

However when Grafton hit 3-pointer number three to close the quarter scoring the Warriors, despite having serious defensive issues, held a 28-26 lead at the break.

In fact the long range shooting by the Warriors helped keep the club in the contest as the Meteors played well on both end of the floor.

Stoddard scored five consecutive points on a 3-pointer and then a steal and fast break lay in for a 33-30 lead in the third.

Frederking scored six-points in the third and sophomore reserve Owen Gross, who ended up with 11-points off the bench, added four-points in the same frame.

Marissa-Coulterville also got a big contribution from a sophomore, 5-foot-11 Cameron Bowlby, who netted eight-points and led the team with seven-rebounds.

Bowlby grabbed a defensive rebound and took it coast-to-coast for a score to close an 8-3 run for a 41-37 advantage.

“He (Bowlby) helps us immensely on the offensive end and I told him you will never leave the floor if you can guard somebody,” said Coach Wine. “And coming through grade school he wasn't interested in guarding. He has done a better job lately so he has earned his time because he is playing better defense.”

Gross hit both of his shots near the end of the third and his second bucket with :06 gave the Warriors a very brief lead.

However M-C quickly got the ball into Bowlby who launched a long 3-pointer from just inside the halfcourt line that found the mark before the horn for a 48-47 lead.

The hosts had multiple chances to get a victory but they saved their worst offensive stretch of the game for last period.

Steeleville hit just 5-of-15 shots from the floor in the final eight minutes.

That, coupled with a permeable defense that the Meteors had little difficulty penetrating, spelled defeat for the Warriors.

Coach Wine saw his team hit 22-of-41 (53.6 percent) “Their plan was to take away Frederking and they doubled him hard. We had some kids step up and make shots, which is what we need but I just didn't think that we guarded tonight very well and that has to get better,” said Coach Bainter.

“That is somebody (Smith) that you can't put at the line late in the game because he is probably the best shooter on the court,” said Coach Bainter.from the floor with an outstanding 8-of-14 from beyond the arc.

They held a slight 25-24 rebounding edge while committing just nine-turnovers.

Smith hit 13-of-16 free throws, 8-of-9 in the fourth quarter.

“That is somebody (Smith) that you can't put at the line late in the game because he is probably the best shooter on the court,” said Coach Bainter.

Steeleville wasn't as bad offensively as they were trying to stop the Meteors.

Coach Bainter's team hit 24-of-53 (43.3 percent) while going 7-of-16 from long distance.

The hosts had only seven-turnovers in the loss, a stinging defeat for a team that could have virtually locked up the division title with a win.

The Warriors will head to Dupo on Friday night for a conference game with the Tigers while Valmeyer will come to Marissa-Coulterville for a game, also on Friday.

“I've been doing this for 19-years in this program and I just told the boys that this is as good of a win as I have ever been involved with,” said Coach Wine. “We played our last game pretty well but at the Chester Tournament it was the worst ball that we had played all year. I told the boys that this season could go either way. We need to suck it up and play better or its going to go South on us in a hurry. They accepted the challenge and we have had good practices lately and we executed our game plan tonight almost to perfection.”

Marissa-Coulterville (71) – Daugherty 1 1 0-0 5, Smith 3 1 13-16 22, Stoddard 2 3 3-6 16, Parkinson 2 0 0-0 4, Diercks 1 0 1-3 3, Knope 3 2 1-1 13, Inman 0 0 0-0 0, Bowlby 2 1 1-2 8.
2FG-14, 3FG-8, FT-19-27, PF-11.

Steeleville (65) – Sutton 1 1 0-0 5, Grafton 1 5 3-4 20, Valleroy 2 0 0-0 4, Frederking 8 0 1-1 17, Smith 1 1 3-4 8, Gross 4 0 3-3 11, Meyers 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-17, 3FG-7, FT-10-12, PF-20.

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