Local teams begin play in Freeburg hoops tourney

Rick Wiegand goes up for two of his team-high 24 points for Waterloo against Marquette on Friday. (Alan Dooley photo)

Monroe County boys high school basketball teams went 1-2 in the first day of action in the Freeburg Holiday Tournament on Friday.

In a rematch of last year’s title game, Friday’s showdown between Marquette and Waterloo didn’t disappoint.

The Explorers, who are shooting for a fourth straight holiday tourney championship, relied on the hot hand of 5-foot-8 junior guard Shandon Boone to pull out a 50-42 win after trailing by five points at halftime.

Waterloo came out firing on offense, translating crisp passes and smooth ball rotation into clean looks at the hoop. Bulldogs senior guard Rick Wiegand was a thorn in Marquette’s side early and often, nailing two early three-pointers to propel his team to a 13-5 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. Wiegand scored 24 points for the game, including four three-pointers.

Boone helped bring the Explorers back, as his three-pointer tied it at the end of one, 15-15.

“He’s a tough player,” Marquette head coach Steve Medford said of Boone. “He knows how to play. He’s brought a lot to the table for our team.”

Boone drilled another from behind the arc to begin the second quarter, putting the Explorers up 18-15, but Wiegand continued his sharp shooting and Waterloo’s defense forced multiple Marquette turnovers, and in a back-and-forth quarter that saw multiple lead changes, the Bulldogs took a 32-27 lead into the locker room. A three-pointer by Waterloo senior guard Max Schrader late in the half gave the Bulldogs the added kick in their step they needed heading into the second half.

“We shot lights out in the first half,” Waterloo head coach CJ Cruser said. “I thought we would come back to reality just a bit, and we did.”

Marquette changed the tide in the second half, clamping down on defense to hold the Bulldogs scoreless the entire third quarter. Junior center Ben Sebacher converted a traditional three-point play, hitting the free throw after his bucket to bring the Explorers back. After two free throws from Boone tied it, Boone provided the ultimate game-changing play.

With time running out, Marquette forced a Waterloo turnover under their basket – the Bulldogs had zero turnovers in the first half — and Boone drilled a three-point buzzer beater from just inside the half court line, putting the Explorers up three at 35-32 heading into the fourth quarter.

“That was a big momentum shifter,” Medford said of the shot.

Cruser agreed.

“It was a killer,” he said. “You can’t just have a doughnut in the third quarter. You’re not going to recover from that.”

Marquette opened the fourth quarter with the ball and scored on its first possession to go up by five. The Explorers then converted multiple Waterloo turnovers into baskets on the other end. Boone’s two free throws midway through the final period put Marquette up comfortably at 43-33. A late charge by Wiegand and the Bulldogs made it 45-40 in the final minute, but Boone and teammate Jacob Fisher hit their free throws late to close out the victory.

“We didn’t guard very well in the first half,” Medford said after the game. “We let Wiegand get away from us and he made a lot of good shots. I thought we really buckled down in the second half. I think our guys showed a lot of resilience and patience.”

Cruser credited Marquette’s defensive pressure in the second half.

“They got up and guarded us a little tighter (in the second half), didn’t give us open looks,” Cruser said.

He added that his team played well on defense, but offense seemed to lose its way.

“You put so much pressure on your defense when you can’t buy a basket,” Cruser said.

Marquette will play Lebanon in an 8 p.m. game on Saturday. Waterloo will also play Lebanon in a 2 p.m. game on Saturday.

Columbia’s Korbin Farmer drives through the lane against Triad. (Alan Dooley photo)

Columbia opens with easy win

Columbia began Freeburg Holiday Tournament play with a convincing win over Triad, 59-34, on Friday night.

The Holmes brothers – junior Jonathan and freshman Jordan – proved too much for the Knights as they came out firing from long range and helped the Eagles build a lead they would not relinquish. As a team, Columbia shot 8-for-18 from behind the arc.

Jonathan Holmes scored 21 points to lead the Eagles – including five three-pointers – and his younger brother Jordan added 10 points to go along with five assists and three steals.

“The Holmes brothers were awfully good tonight,” Columbia head coach Mark Sandstrom said.

Juniors Drew Huebner (10 rebounds, one block) and Korbin Farmer provided a strong inside presence on defense for the Eagles. Farmer’s bucket with just more than a minute remaining in the first half put his team up 26-18, which would be the score at halftime.

Ryan Gudeman converted a steal on defense into an easy layup to start the third quarter scoring for the Eagles. He scored the next basket as well, followed by a steal and layup by teammate Zach Mathews to put Columbia up 32-18.

Columbia never let up from there in what turned out to be an easy victory.

Still, Sandstrom wasn’t entirely satisfied with his team’s performance.

“We need to be aggressive. Sometimes we aren’t aggressive and it costs us,” he said. “We won by 25, but I still think we only played about 12 minutes of that game. When we’re in a rhythm, we’re OK, but that all feeds from our aggressiveness on the floor.”

Columbia will play Lovejoy at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Triad will also play Lovejoy in a noon game.

Sophomore Noah Moss scored 18 points to lead Triad.

Valmeyer falls to Sparta

The Pirates dropped their opening game of the Freeburg tourney, 57-40 to Sparta. Playing without their top two scorers, Ryan Unterseh and Zach Williams, due to disciplinary reasons, Valmeyer was lacking the offensive firepower to keep up with the Bulldogs.

Valmeyer led after one quarter, 8-6, but the Bulldogs picked up their intensity from there, outscoring the Pirates 41-19 in the second and third quarter.

Matt Hemenway led Valmeyer with 12 points for the game. Eric Smith added eight points for the Pirates, who play against Piasa Southwestern at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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