Surging De Smet Jesuit uses big third quarter run to put away Eureka
By: Jonathan Duncan
There was no fast start this time around for the De Smet Jesuit basketball Spartans in facing the Eureka Wildcats. But thanks to a strong second half start on Wednesday night, the Spartans are still playing meaningful basketball in March.
De Smet Jesuit turned a third-quarter run into a convincing 59-38 Class 5 sectional victory over Eureka at Maryville University.
“In the third quarter, I thought we defended better,” De Smet coach Kevin Poelker said. “I thought we put better pressure on the ball, and I thought our bigs did a better job of contesting shots and rebounding at the same time.”
De Smet Jesuit (23-6) now gets a date with Jackson (19-10) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 1 p.m. at Lindenwood University in St. Charles.
Jackson knocked off the De Smet Jesuit rival Chaminade 60-59 to advance.
Eureka (18-11), which had gone 7-2 in its last nine games, gave the Spartans all they wanted in the first half and was behind just 28-27. But De Smet erupted for 15 straight points to bust the game wide open.
The Spartans led by just one after the first quarter and held a 26-22 lead at the end of the first half. But a 23-point third quarter catapulted De Smet Jesuit into a whopping 49-29 advantage going into the final stanza.
Nolan Berry paced De Smet Jesuit with 18 points and senior guard Brandon Shackelford, continued his strong post-season with 15 points, scoring 10 of them in the first half with Jimmy Barton in foul trouble. Alec Bausch chipped in 10 points.
“I’ve just been trying to do what the coaches have asked of me and then when the shots are there try to hit them,” Shackelford said.
“It’s been great to be able to hit shots when we need them and having a team like Nolan,and Jimmy, and Alec (Bausch) behind me makes it easy.”
Eureka struggled to score through the night as big man Mason Bendigo, who pumped in 32 points in the Wildcats district championship win over Lafayette, struggled with foul trouble and scored just five points. Tyler Jordan led the Wildcats with 17 points and Matt Baker added 10.
“Not having Mason because of foul trouble was huge,” Eureka coach Craig Kennedy said. “They disrupted us defensively and when we lost Mason it put too much pressure on Tyler and Matt to make shots and they got tired and then struggled to get shots.”
“We needed to play a near flawless game to beat a team like that and it just didn’t happen.”