ND, Jackson prep for sectionals

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Both boys teams face opponents tonight they have faced earlier this season.

Notre Dame coach Paul Hale watched his Bulldogs rout De Soto by 35 points in the regular-season matchup between the two schools 12 days ago.

But Hale has stressed to his team that tonight's second meeting could be more difficult since the stakes are higher.

The Bulldogs (20-6) and Dragons (16-11) meet in the sectional round of the Class 4 playoffs at Mineral Area Community College in Park Hills, Mo., at 7:45 p.m.

"This is playoff time," Hale said. "And teams rise up to the occasion at this time. We've got to keep our focus and keep playing. We played really good defense Saturday against Sikeston, but that game is over with and we're focusing on De Soto right now. And we've got to do the same thing with them."

De Soto is led by John Krodinger, who is averaging 10.6 points per game, and Cory DeClue, who is averaging 8.9 points per game.

"Krodinger can shoot it outside," Hale said. "And then they've got DeClue, who is a pretty good athlete. And then they've got some size. They handle the ball really good and they play really good defense."

Hale said his team played strong press defense against the Dragons last time the two teams met, and that is something the Bulldogs must do again.

Notre Dame outscored De Soto 13-1 in the first quarter in the last meeting.

Hale hopes his seniors continue to step up tonight.

Bulldogs' 6-foot-8 senior center Ryan Willen, who averages 23.3 points per game, had 23 points in the district final Saturday against Sikeston. Seniors Austin Greer (13.2 points per game), Ty Williams (9.6 points per game) and Mark Himmelberg (9 points per game) have also been shooting well.

"They [the seniors] have played pretty well so far, but it is playoff time and anything can happen in one game," Hale said. "We're playing pretty good ball right now and we'd like to continue it."

Indians vs. Statesmen

Jackson (20-7) also plays its sectional-round game tonight, a Class 5 matchup against Webster Groves (25-3) at the Farmington Civic Center in Farmington, Mo.

Webster Groves beat the Indians 72-51 in December at the Pepsi Showcase at the Show Me Center. The final score would have been worse had not the Indians gone on a 13-2 run in the final minutes.

For Jackson to be successful this time around, it will need to match up better with Webster Groves' front line and find a way to stop 6-6 Zach Redel and Mike Whittier, who each netted 16 points.

"Last time they rebounded really well and hurt us on boards quite a bit," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said. "We need to take care of the basketball and rebound just to have a chance to compete."

Webster had a balanced offense that night as Drew Hanlen added 13, Derrick Dilworth scored 10 and 6-4 Vinnie Raimondo chipped in nine.

Jackson was without one if its top three scorers in 6-6 Spencer Goodman.

"Him being there will help quite a bit," Scott said. "All five guys need to rebound better than last time."

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