I spent my Friday evening at Missouri Baptist University taking in the action at Day 2 of the GAC-Suburban Basketball Challenge.
In the first game, Parkway North took on Wentzville Liberty in a game that went back and forth to the very end. Liberty appeared to have a victory in hand when sophomore guard Kaleb Overall hit two free throws with five seconds left to give his team a 55-54 lead.
However, senior guard Devin Michael Griffin of Parkway North had other ideas. After a time out, Griffin took a inbounds pass and drove baseline and hit a put in a layup as time expired to give the Vikings a 56-55 victory. It was a nice player from the athletic 5’11” Griffin, who finished with a team-high 15 points. A standout on the Vikings’ football team, Griffin showed that kind of athleticism and strength on the final play.
The Vikings also got 13 points from 6’4″ senior forward Evan Meier. The 6’4″ Meier is a blue collar post player who works hard and gets positive results for his efforts. He did a good job finishing on the baseline. I was very impressed with the play of 5’5″ freshman point guard Tayari Goodwin. He is quick and can handle the ball. In the fourth quarter when his team fell behind, Goodwin came up with seven big points when his team really needed them. He scored on a couple of drives and hit a key 3-pointer. The kid showed a lot of moxie.
Liberty was led by Overall’s 18 points. The 6’4″ Overall is a excellent athlete who can play anywhere on the court. He gets to the basket with strength and has a very nice overall skill set. Overall also displayed some nifty passing skills, including a great behind the back touch pass in the lane to set up a teammate for a bucket. He is going to be a very good college prospect down the line. Liberty also got 15 points from 6’4″ junior forward Brian Jones, who scored inside throughout the game and hit a few mid range jumpers off the catch. Liberty is a team of the future. They are still a new school with no senior class, so coach Chip Sodemann is building with a lot of young players in key roles. They are taking some lumps right now, but with players such as Overall and Jones leading the way, the future is bright.
In Game 2, Eureka defeated Warrenton 66-48. The game was pretty close at halftime, but the Wildcats gradually pulled away in the second half to win comfortably. Eureka got a game-high 21 points from junior guard Alex Cleary. The 6’2″ Cleary displayed a smooth perimeter stroke as he nailed four 3-pointers. He has gotten bigger and stronger from last year and the results are evident. Sophomore forward Matt Plohr added 10 points. The 6’3″ Plohr is a crafty post player with good moves inside. He seems to be in the right place at the right time. Senior Tanner Sobotka added 11 points. He is a 6’4″ big body who could step out and shoot the 3-pointer. Sophomore guard Gunnar Herbert showed some nice ball handling and free throw shooting down the stretch.
Warrenton was led by 6’7″ sophomore Caleb Strauss, who scored 15 points. The long lefty has a fine shooting touch in the lane and he can shoot it from different angles. As he gets stronger physically, he is really going to be a good one. Warrenton has had some really good forwards in past years and Strauss will follow in that tradition. I also liked 6’5″ junior Trevor Alberternist, who scored 12 points. He was not shy about taking the ball to the basket, where he finished well.
Game 3 featured Parkway West vs. St. Charles West. It looked like a blowout after a half as Parkway West led 26-12 and pretty much stifled St. Charles West’s offense. The second half was a different story as the Warriors battled back and really made a game of it. Parkway West was able to hold on and take a 51-44 victory.
Parkway West was led by 6’8′ junior Wyatt Yess (pictured), who scored a game-high 23 points. Yess is a Division I recruit with several offers and he showed why on Friday as he repeatedly stepped out and hit jumper after jumper, including a couple of 3-pointers. He is a versatile young man who can also pass and protect the rim on defense. The Longhorns have plenty of size up front as Yess is joined by 6’6″ senior Nick Lathrop and 6’5″ senior Matt Peterson. Both are very effective around the basket as they scored eight points each. The Longhorns are a very solid team that does not make a lot of mistakes.
St. Charles West was led by 5’10” senior guard Hasaan Decarolis, who scored 16 points. Decarolis is a quick guard with excellent handles and the ability to get to the basket. He found the going tough in the first half as his forays to the basket were met by those Parkway West trees. The second half was a different story as he continued to get to the basket with better results, and he knocked down a couple of 3-pointers to loosen things up. Also helping out was senior guard Davis Soderberg, who finished with 10 points. The 6’2″ Soderberg can really shoot it from downtown.
In the finale, undefeated Jennings took on Fort Zumwalt North in what proved to be the most exciting game of the day. The young Panthers battled Jennings tooth and nail and forced an overtime before Jennings prevailed 71-63 to remain unbeaten. Jennings features a well-balanced team, led by 6’1″ senior guard Darius Rice, who scored 15 points. Rice is a smooth point guard who makes everyone better, but can score when it is needed. Junior forward Rajea Johnson also scored 15 points. The 6’3″ Johnson is active and athletic and gets his points in many different ways. He’s difficult to match up with around the basket because of that constant activity. Senior guard Tahj Welch added 12 points while senior guard Pernell Walker scored all eight of his points in the overtime session.
Fort Zumwalt North is in transition this year as for the first time in five years, coach Charles Glotta does not have one of his sons to coach. Chaz (Northern Colorado) and Zach (Austin Peay) are both playing Division I basketball. The Panthers got 22 points from 6’7′ senior Austin Schwerdt, who is smooth lefty with a nice perimeter game. He put the game into overtime with a bucket at the end of regulation. Sophomore Marco Powells added nine points. He has a nice future ahead of him. Senor Blake Wilson scored 13 points.
Overall, it was an enjoyable evening of hoops at Missouri Baptist. The smaller venue for this event seemed to work as the crowds were pretty good, as opposed to the spacious Family Arena in St. Charles.
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