Corey Frazier went home this weekend. Back to the Bootheel. Back into the lion’s den that is the Sikeston Field House.
Frazier, a Charleston graduate, led his Maplewood-Richmond Heights boys basketball team into the belly of the beast and came out victorious. When the Blue Devils emerged with a 70-66 victory, it marked just the third time Sikeston (13-1, No. 1 in Class 4) lost at home in its last 68 games, a stretch of six seasons.
The only other team to beat Sikeston in that time was rival Charleston. According to the Sikeston Standard Democrat, the last time a non-conference opponent beat Sikeston was 2007, when Portageville did the trick.
Maplewood, 13-4 and the No. 4 team in the STLhighschoolsports.com small-schools rankings, went into the Sikeston Field House with a devil-may-care attitude.
“There were almost 3,000 people in the seats,” Frazier said. “We had nothing to lose.”
The Blue Devils got 26 points from Kahlid Hagens and a stunning 8 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks from reserve Devontai Halfacre. Those numbers are significant coming from Halfacre because he’s a legitimate 6 feet 7 and 265 pound player who has seen little to no meaningful action during Maplewood’s brutal schedule. His play and work at practice hasn’t shown Frazier or the coaching staff he should be on the court. Frazier said the big man has come to life recently at practice, and that carried into Friday's victory.
“We have really been on him at practice,” Frazier said. “He’s been busting it extra hard at practice. We’re letting him learn through his mistakes.”
Halfacre's contributions could be significant as his size makes him nearly impossible for most small schools to move him out of the post.
"The dude is a mountain in there," Frazier said. "You're not moving him."
Some minutes have freed up in the rotation as junior guard Cortland Brooks transferred to Soldan between semesters. He was granted eligibility by the Missouri State High School Activities Association last week and already has played in two games for the reigning Class 4 champions.
Maplewood, which also picked up a solid win at Jennings last week, gets some time off before hosting its inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Shootout next Monday. There are four games scheduled. Carnahan (9-9) plays Jennings at noon, Soldan (3-8) will take on Von Steuben (Chicago) at 1:30 p.m., Madison Prep tussles with Hyde Park (Chicago) at 3 p.m.. and Maplewood caps the day against Phillips (Chicago) at 4:30 p.m.
MADISON PREPS FOR BELLEVILLE EAST CLASSIC
No. 1 small school Madison Prep (13-0) will take part in the Belleville East Classic this week. The Bears are in Pool B, from which they will play Oakville at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and then McCluer at 8 p.m. Friday. Pool A features Belleville West, Belleville East and Althoff. The winners will play for the tournament title at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Madison hasn’t had much game action recently but doesn’t appear to show signs of rust. The Bears trounced McKinley 73-12 last week, including 48-6 in the first half. McKinley scored all six of its points in the first quarter.
Madison is scheduled to play at Lovejoy at 7 p.m. Monday.
DUCHESNE TAKES BACK-TO-BACK LOSSES
The Denver Miller Classic at Kirkwood was unkind to Duchesne (10-2, No. 6), which fell from the ranks of the unbeaten. That one loss morphed into a losing streak when the Pioneers dropped a 50-41 semifinal to Chaminade and then lost to Normandy 42-41 when Gerard Fuller buried a 3-pointer with just over five seconds to play in the third-place game.
“We struggled scoring the ball a little bit,” Duchesne coach Wade Bouslog said.
Bouslog thought his team did the things it needed to do on the defensive side, saying if the Pioneers can hold a team between 42 and 50 points they’re more than likely going to find a way to win. But that ball wouldn’t go in the basket consistently, and Bouslog thinks it might have spooked his team a bit.
“I think it makes the kids a little tighter,” he said. “I think it affected our kids mentally.”
Duchesne is at its best when it’s in transition and gets its opponent on its heels. The Pioneers could not do that consistently at Kirkwood. Bouslog would prefer to see his team push the pace.
“We’re better when it’s not a 40-point game,” he said. “We need to get back to running and pushing the tempo.”
Bouslog and his Pioneers didn’t get to lick their wounds much. They took Sunday off and go back to work as they play at Archdiocesan Athletic Association rival St. Dominic (9-4) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Bouslog said the fact that the team doesn’t get much time to stew in a not-so-great weekend is a good thing.
“Some of the time when you have a weekend like we’ve had you dwell on it,” Bouslog said. “We have to come right back. There’s not a lot of time to think about it.”
WESTMINSTER FALLS IN WASHINGTON FINALE
Westminster (7-5) must really like the Washington gym. The Wildcats scored a season-high 73 points in their opening-round victory over Fort Zumwalt East at the Washington Tournament. The next game they scored 83 points in their victory over Francis Howell Central. They eventually dropped the title game to host Washington 55-51, but the week did show there are signs of life at Westminster.
The Wildcats entered the season as one of the favorites in a loaded Metro League. They brought back a great group of players that saw major minutes last season. However, things have not gone as planned. Westminster dropped its first game of the new year at Clayton and was reeling.
This week appeared to put the Wildcats back on track, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Westminster has league games with Lutheran South, MICDS and No. 4 small school John Burroughs coming up.
CROSSROADS HAS WICKED WEEK AHEAD
Crossroads is tiny but has proven rather mighty this season. One of the few Class 2 teams in town, the Current are 10-2 after dropping a South Central Athletic Association game Friday at home to Brentwood (7-6). The only other team to beat Crossroads is Whitfield, and that came in the first week of December.
The Current have a tough road this week as they play four games in five days against various levels of competition. Monday night they host Kennedy (7-6), Tuesday they are at Valley Park (2-10), Wednesday they’re at St. Pius X (9-5) and Friday they’re at John Burroughs (13-0, No. 4).
The backcourt of Milton Spalding and Trevor Clay has been the catalyst for the Current. Spaulding leads the team with a scoring average of 18. He’s also the team leader in rebounds (60), assists (45), steals (35), 3-pointers made (19) and free throws made (38). Clay averages 17 points and has connected on a team-high 75 percent of his 49 free throws.
WHITFIELD'S THOMAS SCORING IN BUNCHES
Whitfield senior guard Justin Thomas has taken over the scoring load for the Warriors since Dmitri Rucker went down with an injury seven games into the season.
Thomas (6-4) is averaging 17 points per game. He went for 30 against Pattonville two weeks ago and had a pair of impressive performances at CBC’s DC Wilcutt Invitational last week. He scored a team-high 28 points against the host Cadets, then two days later had 27 against St. Charles West in a 65-50 victory. He was held to 13 in the Warriors’ 36-27 loss to Lutheran North on Friday.