By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
Last Friday’s game between the Oakville and Kirkwood Senior High boys’ basketball teams featured two programs fighting to hang near the top of the Suburban West Conference standings.
The Pioneers of Kirkwood (10-5, 3-1 Suburban West) had the strongest hand last week, beating the visiting Tigers 61-52.
“Kirkwood is an excellent ball team,” Oakville head coach Kenny Ash told the Call. “They could easily be 15-3 this season.”
Oakville (12-4, 3-2 Suburban West) isn’t locked out of the championship yet, however. The Tigers are just two losses down in the standings with upcoming games against two conference leaders, Marquette and Northwest.
The Tigers stumbled out of the gate against Kirkwood as the Pioneers tacked on a 13-5 lead after the first quarter. Oak-ville tightened the gap, trailing by only one point at halftime, but the Pioneers were too tough in the second half.
“We struggled in the first quarter and had too many turnovers,” Ash said. “During the next three quarters we battled them tooth and nail. It was the first quarter that came back to haunt us.”
Senior forward Casey Noll led the Tigers with 22 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two assists. Noll averages a team-high 16.1 points per game along with 10.4 rebounds a game.
“I think that he (Noll) was a boy playing possessed out there,” Ash said. “He was just outstanding in that game. He really had a great all around game.”
Oakville’s Matt McKiernan added 14 points, three assists, one steal and one rebound.
It was McKiernan’s fourth straight double-digit scoring performance.
Senior center Drew Martin battled foul trouble to contribute 10 points and seven rebounds.
“Unfortunately for him, he was in foul trouble that night,” Ash said. “Kirkwood took advantage of that with their big guys. Because of the fouls, Drew played tentatively, which hampered him that night.”
The Tigers welcome Cape Girardeau Central to town for a 7 p.m. non-conference battle on Friday.
“They (Cape Girardeau Central) have got a nice team,” Ash said. “They like to fast break a lot and play tough defense. I think that we’ve got our work cut out for us.”