Berry, Barton power De Smet Jesuit into state semifinals
By: Jonathan Duncan
De Smet Jesuit seniors Nolan Berry and Jimmy Barton had watched video of the Spartans 2011 Class 5 quarterfinal loss to Troy more than a few times before the start of this season’s playoffs.
Berry, Barton and their teammates were strongly determined on not letting that disappointment happen again.
Powered by Berry and Barton, De Smet Jesuit overpowered a game-but outgunned Jackson Indians club from opening tip to final horn for an 81-48 victory in a Class 5 quarterfinal Saturday afternoon at Lindenwood University.
“I watched it going into the playoffs just to remind himself of that feeling and how we don’t ever want to go there again,” Berry said. “We didn’t want to get outplayed again like that. I watch it ever now and again just to remind myself.”
Riding a 14 of 15 game-winning wave, De Smet Jesuit (24-6) advances to play to the Class 5 semifinals for the first time in 11 years and will play Vianney Friday at 3:20 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.
Vianney (22-8) knocked off two-state state champ McCluer North 49-44 Saturday night to advance.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Barton said. “It’s great to come out and get a huge win to go down to Columbia.”
De Smet Jesuit had all phases of its game working and put on one of its most dominant performances in several years.
Berry paced the Spartans with 20 points, eight rebounds and eight blocked shots. Barton scored 14 points and dished 13 assists. Junior guard Mitch Plassmeyer had a big day with 15 points on five three-balls.
The Spartans shot a ridiculous 57.8 from the floor and 58.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
Jackson (19-11) grabbed a 4-0 lead early as Karson King and Blake Reynolds led the Indians with 13 and 11 points.
But De Smet Jesuit reeled off a 13-point run that included three three-pointers.
De Smet Jesuit led by 12 after the first quarter and blazed to a 46-23 lead at the half.
The eye-popping first half had De Smet Jesuit coach Kevin Poelker also pleased and amazed.
“I thought we defended really well and I thought that fed right into being able to play well on the offensive end. It always helps when you make some shots.”
In the second half, De Smet Jesuit was just as relentless, outscoring Jackson 17-12 in the third quarter and leading by 30 points in the closing moments to set off a calm celebration of the school’s first trip to Columbia over 10 years.
“From the moment we lost in the district final last year, these guys had an edge about being the best we can and improving all year,” Poelker said. It started last spring.”