Hawks are regional champs

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Gibault’s Ian Bollinger shoots during the third quarter of Saturday’s regional final. See more photos by clicking here. (Corey Saathoff photo)

In a very physical game – as evidenced by a cut above the left eye of Kaden Augustine – the Gibault Catholic High School boys basketball squad won its first regional championship since 2016 at home Saturday night, 31-27, over Madison.

Defense was the theme of the night, and quality shots were at a premium. Fortunately for Gibault, senior Ian Bollinger was on his game.

Bollinger scored 16 points – including 13 in the second half – to pace the Hawks. He hit four clutch free throws in the final minute to solidify victory.

“Ian Bollinger had as good of a game as I can remember a Gibault player having in an elimination game,” Gibault head coach Dennis Rueter said. “He made big play after big play.” 

Gibault (22-9) advances to the Class 1A White Hall (North Greene) Sectional, where it will take on Liberty (25-5) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Even though the Hawks were the away team Saturday night, a packed Hustedde Gymnasium surely gave them home field advantage. They led 7-4 after the first quarter.

Augustine, Gibault’s leading scorer this season, left the contest multiple times due to injury, but willed himself back into the lineup each time. He finished with three points and six rebounds.

A layup by Kameron Hanvey gave the Hawks a 16-10 edge at halftime, setting up what would be an exciting second half of action.

Bollinger started to heat up in the third quarter, and his three-pointer gave Gibault a 25-16 lead with 2:46 left in the frame. But Madison went on an 8-0 run of its own to make it a 25-24 game with five minutes remaining in regulation. Hanvey ended Madison’s run to give the Hawks a little breathing room.

With Gibault trying to run out the clock in the final minute, Madison forced turnovers twice but were unable to capitalize.

Bollinger sank two free throws to put Gibault up 29-24 with 20 seconds left. Following a long three-pointer by Madison with 13 seconds left, Bollinger calmly made two more free throws to ice it for the Hawks.

“Our seniors carried us with their grit. Our team as a whole, including Kaden, showed a lot of toughness and poise,” Rueter said. “We just refused to lose that game.”

The title is longtime coach Rueter’s 16th regional championship and comes after four straight below .500 seasons.

“Just a huge game to win for our  kids and the Gibault community,” Rueter said.

Gibault advanced to the regional final by virtue of a victory Friday night at home over Father McGivney, 57-41. The Hawks led 26-18 at halftime and extended their advantage in the second half. 

Gibault shot 51.2 percent from the floor, led by Hanvey with 20 points and Augustine with 15 points. 

Hanvey also grabbed seven rebounds. 

Augustine, a junior, is averaging 14.1 points per game to lead the Hawks in scoring this season. 

With a win Tuesday night, the Hawks would face either Metro-East Lutheran or Jacksonville Routt for the sectional title Friday night. 

The winner of the White Hall Sectional advances to the Jacksonville Sectional taking place Monday night. 

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