The Gibault Catholic High School basketball team is off to a great start to the 2012-13 season. Ranked No. 8 in USA Today’s Poll in Illinois Class 1A with a 5-1 record, Gibault won its home opener against a traditionally tough Pinckneyville team.
But this team has set the bar high and is still not satisfied.
“I don’t think we played our best game,” Hawks basketball coach Dennis Rueter said while reflecting on the contest. “This point in the year, though, I think it’s a pretty good win for us.”
Despite the Hawks missing key player and junior guard Zach Neff due to injury, the team still managed to keep one of its strengths: depth.
“We’ve probably not operated with all eight (starting-role) players yet. Fortunately we have eight players, so our depth is good and we haven’t been completely affected by having them out,” Rueter said. “I guess that can be overused. You need your kids to get in a rhythm.”
Gibault’s rhythm seemed to be right on track Friday, up the entire game against Pinckneyville (0-1) and going on to win 58-46.
“Pinckneyville is really a good program and we haven’t beaten them a lot in the past, 15-20 years. So anytime you beat them, it’s a good win.”
Junior forward Wes Degener led the Hawks with 17 points on the night, shooting 7-for-11.
“His size, quickness and body control is kind of a rare thing to find in a school this size,” Rueter said.
“He’s obviously just really a good athlete. Basketball may be his third best sport… After it’s all said and done here he might go down as one of the best athletes that has ever played here.”
Gibault senior forward Brendan McFarland was right behind Degener with 13 points on the night and going 3-for-3 from the free-throw line. Teammate Nick Row went a perfect 4-for-4 from the line and had eight points with a team high six steals.
Adding to the team’s success against the Panthers was 6’8” Gibault senior Jacob Weiler.
“We are pleased that he looks like he is going to be a factor. For a while there we didn’t know if he was going to be,” Rueter explained. “He always does a pretty good job defensively, when he gets some points on top of it that just helps.”
The Gibault coach says to expect to see Weiler play mostly against teams with height in the paint for him to match-up against.
“He is not going to get a whole lot of minutes because of his conditioning.”
But Weiler might have to see some added playing time next Tuesday when they visit Waterloo, who also has height in 6’7” senior Justin Kretchmer.Waterloo’s Jared Lengacher drives to the basket against conference foe Jerseyville on Friday. He led the team with 14 points. For more photos from the game, visit the RepublicTimes.net Media Store. (Teryn Schaefer photo)
Kretchmer and the Bulldogs (2-2, 1-0 in the Mississippi Valley Conference) also snatched a win on Friday night in their home conference opener against Jerseyville (1-5, 0-2), 49-41.
But not without some adversity.
“We were not executing and committing way too many turnovers,” Waterloo basketball coach C.J. Cruser said. “We struggled keeping them off the glass and had some defensive breakdowns.”
Kretchmer got in foul trouble early with three fouls by the beginning of the second quarter and Waterloo trailing the entire first half.
“He has gotten himself into bad situations around the bucket,” Cruser explained. “We need to give him more help defensively to protect his foul situation so he can stay in the game. The word is out on Justin. Teams know he is a prolific shot blocker and they are executing against him very well.”
With the help of Waterloo’s Jared Lengacher, who scored a team high 14 points, they would go on to out-score the Panthers 32-22 in the second half. Fellow senior Riley Minnaert scored eight points but later left the game due to an injury.
Daniel Gardner, Kretchmer and Shane Lenhardt all had six points on the night.
Waterloo beat Freeburg on the road on Tuesday and will stay on the road against Triad on Friday, while Gibault plays at Nashville on Saturday before the two teams meet next Tuesday.