The boys basketball team earned itself just the kind of win most thought they would get against the underdog Parkway West Monday night, in the first round of the Parkway West/Ameritime Classic Boys Basketball Tournament at Carl and Doris Petty Student Recreation Center.
The Spartans weren’t all-time great against the Longhorns, but they were absolutely good enough, in what proved to be a convincing 57-42 win for De Smet.
“I thought we did what we had to do against these guys,” De Smet head coach Kevin Poelker said. “They do some things to frustrate you, and force you out of your game a little bit. They make it hard to play against them sometimes.”
And it was because of West’s frustrating style that the Longhorns were able to keep the game close for three quarters.
De Smet, which lead almost from the opening basket, never could take full control of the game, but led by eight points heading into the fourth quarter.
“They force you to be more patient, and work more to get good shots,” Poelker said. “I know their record's not great, but they’re a good defensive team, and we really had to work for what we got tonight.”
In the fourth quarter though, De Smet finally seemed to figure Parkway West out, and went on a game-clinching 11-2 run that turned that eight-point edge into a near insurmountable 55-40 bulge.
Junior Nolan Berry was a key figure in that spurt for the Spartans, scoring six of his game-high 17 points, while also dishing off two magnificent assists, that helped De Smet finally finish off a spunky Parkway West club.
“Moving the ball around is when we’re at our best,” Poelker said. “That’s when we produce the kinds of shots we want to take. And we finally got some of those in the fourth quarter tonight.”
Berry, a Butler University commit, also had 11 rebounds and four blocked shots to lead the Spartans on Monday.
Teammate Jimmy Barton, a junior point guard for De Smet, had nine points and eight assists for the Spartans as well.
“This is a really solid tournament, with several really good teams,” Poelker said. “We’re going to have to play a lot better if we’re going to do well out here.”
De Smet’s victory means the Spartans (13-5) will advance to the tournament semifinals, where they’ll take on Parkway South (12-4) on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The Patriots earned their trip to the semifinals with a dominating win over DeSoto, which is the club Parkway West will face in the consolation semifinals at 5:30 on Wednesday.
The winner of the De Smet-Parkway South matchup will advance to the tournament championship game, where it would face the winner of the other semifinal (Lafayette vs. Hazelwood Central), on Friday, January 27 at 8 p.m.