Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hazelwood Central, East Advance

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hazelwood Central, East Advance

Article excerpt

When Roger Verseman of Edwardsville returned recently from a golf vacation to Hilton Head, S.C., little did he know that the "practice" would pay such a big dividend.

Verseman, 63, made a 60-foot putt Tuesday night at halftime of SIU-Edwardsville's men's basketball game against Bellarmine at the Vadalabene Center. His prize: a 1994 Mercury Cougar.

Verseman made good on his one chance to roll the ball across the gym floor, up a small incline to an artificial-turf green and into the cup. SIUE has staged "The Prize Putt" at games for two years. Verseman is the first winner.

SIUE boosted its record to 13-13 with a 96-85 victory. Anthony Smith led the Cougars with 25 points, and Jason Holmes added 24. Jeff Gaona topped BelSLPD Hazelwood Central's Demetrius Alexander played like a man possessed Wednesday night.

Alexander, a 6-foot-8 senior center, scored a game-high 35 points to lead the Hawks to a 68-53 victory over Hazelwood West in the semifinals of the Class 4A district tournament at McCluer High.

Central plays Hazelwood East for the district championship at 8 p.m. Friday. East beat McCluer 79-70 in Wednesday's first game.

Hazelwood Central (22-4) is ranked No. 3 in the Post-Dispatch large-schools poll. Hazelwood West finished 12-14.

"When I get inside and I want to dominate, I can," said Alexander, who had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. "There's no tomorrow. You lose, you go home. I want to take my team to the state tournament."

At the start, it looked as if West might be packing its bags as it jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead. But the Hawks, who missed their first eight shots, took a timeout with 4 minutes 14 seconds left in the first quarter to settle down.

"Our shots weren't falling and they got pretty hot," coach Ed Liliensiek said. "Our shots were missing. They're shots were hitting. I called timeout and told them to play like we've been practicing. …

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