Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Charles West Makes Good on Year-Old IOU Warriors Pay Back Hazelwood Central in Finals of Duchesne Tourney

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Charles West Makes Good on Year-Old IOU Warriors Pay Back Hazelwood Central in Finals of Duchesne Tourney

Article excerpt

The St. Charles West High basketball team was looking for a little payback Thursday.

"They beat us here last year and I think that gave the kids some added incentive," West coach Terry Hollander said. "We really wanted this one and I think it showed."

The Warriors, ranked No. 2 in the Post-Dispatch large-school poll, beat seventh-ranked Hazelwood Central 80-74 Thursday in the title game of the 35th annual Duchesne Christmas Tournament.

"We like playing the good teams," West senior Blake Hollander said. "We felt this was a chance to prove ourselves against one of the better teams from St. Louis. And they beat us here last year, so we figured we owed them one."

The loss to Central at Duchesne was one of only three for the 23-3 Warriors a year ago.

This year, West came out of the gates smoking. Sparked by junior guard Ryan Robertson's 17 first-quarter points, the Warriors (9-1) led 29-16 after one quarter and 36-16 early in the second quarter.

At halftime, West led 48-32.

"When we came into the locker room, we were in shock. There's no way we figured to be up 16 on a team like Central," said Blake Hollander, the coach's son.

But the Warriors' big lead was short-lived, thanks to Demetrius Alexander. The 6-foot-8 senior rebounded from a slow start to carry the Hawks in the second half. He scored 16 points in the third quarter and eight more in the fourth as the Hawks (8-3) made a game of it.

Alexander keyed a 27-13 run as Central cut the West lead to two at 61-59 early in the final quarter. But West never panicked.

"Demetrius is a great player and at times tonight, he was unstoppable," coach Hollander said. "After playing a tremendous first half, I thought we lacked aggressiveness on defense in that second half. And Demetrius was super hot.

"But we never lost our poise. We went to the spread with about four minutes left, knowing that we'd have to play under pressure the rest of the way."

The Warriors protected the ball, played hard on defense and hit some important free throws down the stretch for the 80-74 triumph.

"Even when they cut it to two, we felt pretty confident," said Blake Hollander, who scored eight of his game-high 31 points on free throws in the final four minutes, seven seconds of the contest. …

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