Tigers upset Webster Groves 55-52

By STEPHEN GLOVER

As the final seconds slowly ticked off the clock, the Oakville Senior High School boys’ basketball team began to realize that it pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season with a 55-52 victory over Webster Groves last week.

The Jan. 29 loss for Webster Groves (19-3, 5-0 Suburban South) was the team’s second in the past three games as the States-men hope to hold on to the No. 4 ranking in the Associated Press Class 5 poll.

Oakville (9-10, 3-1 Suburban West) is riding a two-game winning streak.

“It was a great game for us,” Oakville head coach Nick Traxler said. “We keep telling our boys that we’ve got to keep improving in every game. I think that we played a good team game that night.”

As the two teams battled to a 19-19 tie at halftime, the Tigers stormed out into the third quarter on a 19-10 run to take a 38-29 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“At halftime, we made some adjustments to try to handle their point guard and (Zach) Redel, their center,” Traxler said. “We were able to contain them in the third quarter and that really paid off for us.”

Webster Groves was led by senior guard Drew Hanlen’s 19 points and six steals while the Tigers were paced by junior guard Keith Pickens’ 14-point showing that included seven rebounds and five blocked shots.

“Keith is getting better every week,” Traxler said. “There was a series in that game where he had three blocked shots all in one possession. That really got the fans and our team going.”

Also scoring in double figures for Oakville was John Alexander with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The senior forward leads the Tigers with 14.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

“John’s been our rock-steady performer all year long,” Traxler said. “Teams double and triple team him and he still gets his points. He’s able to recognize when he’s double or triple teamed and gets the pass off to someone else for the wide-open shot.”

Traxler also was pleased with the effort by junior point guard Matt Noblitt, who was filling in for the injured Javier Duren. Noblitt scored seven points and recorded four assists and essentially solidified his role as a starter.

“Matt played a phenomenal game,” Traxler said. “He was one of the biggest factors in that win for us. I’m really proud of him for stepping it up in that game.”

The Tigers travel to Marquette Friday for a 7 p.m. meeting with the Mustangs (13-6, 3-1 Suburban West), who need a win to keep any hopes alive for a conference title.

Marquette was riding a seven-game winning streak before a loss to Eureka Jan. 29.

“Marquette’s got the (Andy) Rosburg kid, who’s a great player on the inside,” Traxler said. “Chad Haley gets a lot of points from the outside, so they’re playing pretty good right now. I think that if we play well, we can compete with them.”