ST. LOUIS • The opening minutes of the De Smet basketball team’s Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout game against Rockhurst on Thursday at Scottrade Center went about as well as the Spartans could have hoped.
Jimmy Barton hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Nolan Berry scored twice inside, sandwiched around a Mitch Plassmeyer 3 from the left wing. John Barron scored inside.
But then Rockhurst found its rhythm, using a 13-2 run to close out the first quarter and seize the momentum. The Hawklets took control of the game, led by as many 19 points in the third quarter and held off a late De Smet comeback attempt for a 75-66 victory.
“Give them a lot of the credit,” said Berry, who scored a game-high 25 points. “They came out, they had a nice game plan, they were hitting shots, they were making plays. They got us out of what we were trying to do. Despite us trying to fight and come back, they took control of the game from the beginning and just rode it out really nicely.”
The No. 8 team in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings, De Smet fell to 14-6 on the season with its third loss in eight games.
The Spartans also got 15 points and six assists from Barton and nine points from Alec Bausch, but was out-rebounded by the Hawklets 37-29, shot 41.1 percent from the field (23 of 56) and 22.2 percent from behind the 3-point arc (6 of 27).
“I thought we did a really nice job after the first couple of possessions, actually, of switching some defenses on them and making them take a little bit of extra time to get into what they want to do,” Rockhurst coach Mark Nusbaum said. “We know they want to go to the big boy (Nolan Berry) or at least get the ball in his hands. We probably played two or three different defenses and just tried to keep them off-balance a little bit.”
And offensively, Nusbaum’s squad shot the ball well, making the Spartans extend their defense in the first half and then effectively going inside in the second half.
Rockhurst (16-4) shot 51.1 percent from the field (24 of 47) and 46.2 percent from 3-point range (6 of 13). The Hawklets made five 3-pointers in the first quarter — including three off the bench from Nick Hense — and all six in the first half to build a 41-30 advantage.
“They absolutely played well, but I didn’t think that we did enough defensively to take them out of that rhythm,” De Smet coach Kevin Poelker said. “They certainly played very well, but we didn’t do enough little things defensively to really keep ourselves in the game or give ourselves a chance.”
Kyle Wolf led Rockhurst with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Hense finished with 13 points, with 11 in the first half. Tom Keller scored 12. Connor Kuhlmann had six assists.
Led by Hense, the Hawklets got 28 points from its bench.
“We play nine to 10 guys a game, and they all can score,” Nusbaum said.
De Smet had won four straight games, including a 71-53 victory on Friday against Hazelwood Central in the championship game of the Ameritime Classic at Missouri Baptist.
The Spartans were able to cut a 19-point deficit, 61-42 after three quarters, to eight points with 67 seconds left but weren’t able to get any closer.
“We battled,” Poelker said. “I told the guys after the game, 'We always have heart, we always give our best effort, we don’t go away. But against good teams you have to have more than just heart.'
“We didn’t do enough good things on either end of the floor."