Back on December 28, in the quarterfinal round of the Meramec Holiday Basketball Tournament, the boys basketball team handed Hazelwood Central its worst loss of the season up to that point – a 69-54 beatdown – that’s had the Hawks in an angry mood ever since.
On Friday night, the teams met again, this time in the championship game of the Parkway West/Ameritime Classic Tournament at .
But this time, it was Hazelwood Central that earned itself a big-time win over De Smet, 67-54, to gain a measure of revenge.
“Oh I think they were definitely ready for this one,” De Smet head coach Kevin Poelker said. “I think they felt like clearly they weren’t all there back at Meramec. And I think they wanted to prove what they look like when they are all there. And they came out ready to go.”
The Hawks jumped out to quick 13-2 and 17-6 leads with a flurry of scintillating passes and high-flying dunks, including a pair of breakaway jams by senior Marcus Lampley and junior Marcus Hinton.
“They completed everything they wanted to do at the start,” Poelker said. “They did a really nice job.”
At the same time though, De Smet got off to a frigid start, missing nine of its first 11 shots, while also committing a number of first-quarter turnovers that made it even easier for Central to get out and run on the fast break.
The second quarter began the same way, with a Spartan turnover and an easy Central bucket.
But that was when De Smet finally seemed to wake up.
The Spartans got some energy going with a 12-5 run that got them back in the game, then after a couple of Central hoops, De Smet closed the half with three straight buckets of their own to make the score 27-24 at the half.
“We battled back,” Poelker said. “We (figured out) that we had to attack the middle, and we started to get some things going when we did that.”
De Smet even managed to tie the score at 29 early in the third quarter, following a brilliant three-point play layup and free throw by junior Nolan Berry.
But that was the last time De Smet would be that close, as Central outscored the Spartans 18-8 the rest of the period, and even won the final stanza 20-17, to pull out what eventually became a 13-point loss for the tournament favorites.
“They did exactly what good teams do,” Poelker said. “They responded to our run with a run of their own. And we could never quite get that last run all the way there, and they finished the game off with a flurry.”
On a bright note, De Smet’s Berry finished with a game-high 22 points and teammate Jamie Hudson added 13 points to lead the Spartans, who are now 14-6 this season.
Central’s Lampley led his team with 19 points, while teammate Jordan Martin added 16 points, including a sensational alley-oop dunk with 15 seconds left, that put a final exclamation point on the Hawks victory.
Central, the No. 9-ranked team in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch top 10 basketball poll, is now 14-4 this season, and will be back on the court on Tuesday, with a 7 p.m. home game against Suburban North Conference rival Riverview Gardens.
De Smet hits the court next Friday night at SLUH, followed by a quick turnaround for a Saturday contest against Parkway South in the Private vs. Public Shootout, at noon at Hazelwood Central.