Rockets romp past Sesser-Valier
Okawville forces mistakes, dominates middle quarters in 58-35 road win

SESSER – The Sesser-Valier Red Devils suited up for their first home game of the season on Tuesday night after spending a week in Du Quoin facing some pretty tough opponents at the annual Tip-Off Classic.

Coach Shane Garner's team even jumped out to a 9-2 advantage against 1A perennial power Okawville in the first few minutes of this non-conference battle.

But things didn't go well for the hosts the rest of the game as they faced their toughest opposition of the young season.

Coach Jon Kraus' club, last year's state runner's up, wasted little time rallying late in the first quarter to even things at 13-all.

That was as close as this game turned out the rest of the way as Okawville demolished the Red Devils in the middle two quarters in a 58-35 victory, spoiling S-V's home opener.

Okawville pressured the Red Devils into 22-turnovers, including seven in a second quarter that saw the Rockets out point the hosts, 16-4.

The third quarter wasn't any better for Sesser-Valier as they surrendered nine-more turnovers as the Rockets led by 47-22 before the Okawville called off the dogs.

After finishing second in a tough tournament to open the season at Carlyle's Kaskaskian Classic where they lost to Pinckneyville in the title game, Okawville improved to 4-1 on the season with the triumph.

The Rockets, who lost the top scorer in the school's history Noah Frederking to graduation last spring, still have plenty of talented kids remaining from the 32-4 second place club.

Six-foot-seven senior forward Luke Hensler was an important part of last year's run and he is keying a very good defensive team that Coach Kraus has seen shut down some teams this season already.

Having a 6-foot-7 center in the middle of the defense helps immensely as Hensler was part of the effort that thwarted the Red Devils' offense.

“I thought that this (defense) would be an area where we might struggle early in the season but this has been a strength of ours in the first five games,” said Coach Kraus. “We have done a great job of paying attention to the scouting report. Coach (Ryan) Heck gave us a great report and we jammed up a lot of things and got our hands on passes. It helps when you have a 6-7 guy in there. He cleans up a lot of the rebounds and deflects shots. The kids have done a great job so far and our defense has won us our four games.”

This defensive effort on Tuesday night by the guests left the Red Devils sitting at 1-4 after the loss.

Okawville not only forced the miscues but they kept Sesser-Valier from getting second chances.

Coach Garner's club was out-rebounded 26-14 as they were only able to grab three offensive rebounds in the game.

All the numbers added up to a tough beginning of the season for Coach Garner's club.

“We had a lot of turnovers that led to a lot of run outs and lay ups. We came out in the first quarter, we were in attack mode, we moved the ball, we were finding the open man, making the open shots, making things happen. Then all of a sudden it just kind of snapped on us,” said Coach Garner. “But we scored just four-points in the second quarter and we just never got back into the flow of it. Hat's off to them (Okawville).”

While Okawville got the defense going in the middle, the offense was strong from the outside as guards Will Aubel and Payten Harre led the scoring.

Aubel, a 6-foot-3 junior, scored 11 of his 18-points in the first half while Harre, a 5-foot-10 senior, nailed a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 10-points.

Hensler and 6-foot-2 senior guard Caleb Frederking added nine and eight-points respectively.

Six-foot-one junior Lane Schilling (6), 5-foot-8 junior Wyatt Krohne (5) and 6-foot-1 senior Tyler Roesener (2) all scored points for Okawville in the victory.

The numbers weren't nearly as good on the Sesser-Valier ledger as the Red Devils struggled offensively after the first few minutes of the contest.

Junior guard Tyler Winchester led the Red Devils with eight-points as no S-V player reached double-digits in scoring.

Senior Lukas Gunter, who has been hobbled by an ankle injury, added six-points while Coach Garner got five-points apiece from senior Addison Page and senior Joshua Gunter.

The old phrase that 'figures don't lie' fit this contest on Tuesday night.

After jumping out to an early lead, it was Sesser-Valier that looked the part of the winner.

The Red Devils' senior Preston Launius scored just seconds after the opening tap for a quick S-V 2-0 lead.

A bucket by Winchester on a cut to the basket, a 3-pointer by Joshua Gunter and a driving score by Lukas Gunter produced a 9-2 early spread with 5:06 left in the opening stanza.

Unfortunately for the hosts, the highlights from that point on were few.

It didn't take long for the Rockets to take off on their first flight.

An 11-4 scoring burst to close the quarter evened the score at 13-13.

Hensler stepped out and nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing and Aubel was the benefactor of an assist from Krohne after a steal that produced a fast break lay in.

Aubel added another drive to the basket, and then he added an assist on a pass to Schilling for another transition goal.

Two free throws by Harre closed the first quarter.

“I called an early timeout and I just told them (players) 'guys, you're not guarding, there is no intensity.' We just weren't ready to go for some reason. But once we got locked in I thought late in the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter we got in transition which is where we play best. Our guys were outstanding in the middle two quarters,” said Coach Kraus. “I thought we shut them down and took control of the game.”

What came next for Sesser-Valier wasn't pretty at all.

In the next eight minutes, the Red Devils committed seven turnovers while hitting just 1-of-7 field goal attempts.

One of two free throws by Lukas Gunter and a 3-pointer by Page represented the scoring for the hosts in the second quarter.

Those points were 3:17 apart.

In between those points, Okawville rolled.

Okawville hit 6-of-11 shots in the frame while also grabbing three offensive rebounds, one of which was a direct stick back for a score by Aubel, who scored seven of his points in the quarter.

Aubel followed that rebound basket with a fast break score off of one of five turnovers by Sesser-Valier in a stretch in which Okawville took control.

Aubel and Harre collected back-to-back 3-pointers and Frederking scored on a cut to the bucket to close a 16-4 quarter for a 29-17 lead at halftime.

As if the second quarter wasn't bad enough for Sesser-Valier, the Rockets never let up after intermission.

Following a Lukas Gunter 3-pointer, his only trey of the game to get the Red Devils to within eleven points at the beginning of the second half, Okawville went on a game-clinching 16-2 scoring jaunt.

Krohne opened the run with a 3-pointer and Harre closed the sprint with another 20-footer.

In between the Rockets got points on a fast break by Harre after a steal, a pair of free throws by Aubel, a back door cut by Schilling and consecutive transition scores by Roesener and Frederking off of Sesser-Valier turnovers.

By the time the fog cleared, Okawville led 47-22 with just under a minute left in the third quarter.

“We did a good job of spacing them out on our offensive sets. We kind of run the same kind of stuff they (Sesser-Valier) do. We really wanted to work on that were we could get some easy buckets,” said Coach Kraus. “We've been settling for long 3's and 2's and we need to get easier buckets. I thought the guys did a good job getting stuff around the rim.”

The accumulation of points was a direct result of nine more Red Devils' turnovers in the third quarter.

Sesser-Valier never stopped trying, to its credit, and got some points in the fourth quarter from senior Payton Rock and Winchester.

Then Okawville scored eight-points in a row before the benches cleared.

“Offensively I thought that they (Okawville) moved the ball outstanding. They cut hard and found the open man,” said Coach Garner. “They made the open shots. I don't know if you could tell but both teams ran the same offense tonight. They executed and we didn't.”

Okawville ended up 21-of-41 from the floor (51.2 percent) 5-of-11 from the 3-point line.

They also nailed 11-of-13 for the night from the foul line.

A lot of games are won at the charity stripe and in their last three contests, the Rockets are hitting 80 percent of the freebies (28-of-35).

The Red Devils were just 14-of-41 (34.1 percent) and just 4-of-15 (26.6 percent) from long distance.

Okawville did commit 15-turnovers, with 10 of them coming in the second half.

However the hosts were unable to make much out of the gifts.

Both teams have games this weekend.

Sesser-Valier will travel to Chester for an important road game on Friday night.

“We've just got to piece things together. We've got to get Lukas healthy and we've got to get better. We have to show up tomorrow and watch film and get better,” said Coach Garner.

Okawville will play Trico on Friday night at home.

“We knew that they (Sesser-Valier) would be ready to play. They have a great program and this is a great place to play with atmosphere,” said Coach Kraus. “After the sluggish start, we played great the rest of the way.”

Okawville (58) – Harre 1 2 2-2 10, L. Frederking 0 0 0-0 0, C. Frederking 2 0 4-4 8, Aubel 5 1 5-6 18, Green 0 0 0-0 0, Krohne 1 1 0-0 5, Hensler 3 1 0-0 9, Killian 0 0 0-0 0, Riechmann 0 0 0-0 0, Parsley 0 0 0-0 0, Roesmer 1 0 0-0 2, Schilling 3 0 0-1 6, Heckert 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-16, 3FG-5, FT-11-13, PF-11.

Sesser-Valier (35) – Basso 0 1 0-0 3, J. Gunter 1 1 0-2 5, L. Gunter 1 1 2-2 8, E. Gunter 0 0 0-0 0, G. Gunter 0 0 0-0 0, Launius 2 0 0-0 4, Bates 0 0 0-0 0, Rock 2 0 0-0 4, Kiselewski 0 0 0-0 0, Boles 0 0 0-0 0, Eubanks 0 0 0-0 0, Page 1 1 0-0 5.
2FG-10, 3FG-4, FT-3-6, PF-13.

Fouled Out – None
Technical Fouls – None.