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Webster Groves eliminates Jackson boys in Class 5 sectional
Jackson saw its 20-win season end with a 65-44 loss.
FARMINGTON, Mo. -- The Webster Groves High School boys basketball team pretty well had its way from start to finish during a December meeting with Jackson.
That wasn't quite the case Wednesday night as the Indians hung within striking distance of the Statesmen for a good portion of the Class 5 sectional.
But the result was the same, with the Statesmen again proving their worth as one of the state's premier squads.
Webster Groves broke open a tight game after halftime and held off a fourth-quarter charge to post a 65-44 victory at the Farmington Civic Center.
Webster Groves (26-3), ranked fourth in the state, advances to Saturday's quarterfinals, while Jackson (20-8) saw its season end.
"They're the best team we've played this year," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said. "I can't fault our effort. We battled. But they are just a really good team."
Jackson lost to Webster Groves 72-51 at the Pepsi Shootout in December. Only a late spurt by the Indians made things that close.
The Indians played that game without one of their senior stars, 6-foot-6 forward Spencer Goodman, so they had hopes of springing an upset after falling to Lindbergh in last year's sectional round.
"We didn't have Spencer last time, and we thought we could stay with them this time," Jackson senior guard Jake Leet said.
Webster Groves coach Jay Blossom expected as much.
"We knew it wasn't going to be that kind of game again," Blossom said. "They're too good for that. They're a much better team than they were."
Although the Indians never led, they trailed just 29-24 at halftime.
After falling behind by 18 points in the third quarter, Jackson made a final push that closed the deficit to 53-44 with nearly 4 minutes left.
"We regrouped and did a lot of good things," Scott said of the Indians' rally.
But the Statesmen scored the game's last 12 points to cruise into the state's final eight.
"The first half we hung with them," Leet said. "But they have such a good team. You have to play so well to have a chance against them."
Leet led the Indians with a game-high 21 points, while 6-6 senior center Hunter Grantham added 14 points.
Webster Groves was led by its point guard, 5-11 senior Drew Hanlen, who has signed with Division I Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
Hanlen paced the Statesmen with 18 points, which is right around his average.
But it's the way he controls a game in many areas -- including his passing and defense -- that draws rave reviews.
"He's the best point guard we've seen," Scott said. "He just directs the team and does so many things for them."
Said a smiling Blossom: "He makes it easier to be a coach."
Zach Redel, a 6-7 senior center, added 12 points for the Statesmen. Two other Webster Groves players scored 10 points apiece.
"They've got a lot of really good players, and they play really well together," Scott said.
Jackson, which trailed 13-10 after one quarter, tied the contest twice in the second period, including 24-24 on a Goodman 3-pointer with 1:26 left.
But the Statesmen carried momentum into the the break by scoring the final five points, both baskets resulting from Hanlen steals.
Senior forward Mike Whittier's 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining broke the deadlock, and Hanlen's layup with 24 seconds left put Webster Groves up 29-24.
"In the first half we came out and took away what we wanted, and we were aggressive defensively," Scott said. "Drew made those two great plays at the end of the first half, and that was big."
Jackson got the first basket of the second half to make it 29-26, but the Statesmen scored the next 12 points.
The Indians faced an uphill battle the rest of the night and, despite a spurt early in the fourth quarter, never could seriously threaten the lead.
"They got that run in the third quarter," Leet said.
Despite the defeat, Scott and Leet said the Indians have nothing to hang their heads about after a season that saw them win their second straight district championship.
"We had a good year. I'm proud of it," Leet said. "We just got beat by a better team tonight."
Webster Groves 65, Jackson 44
Jackson -- Marcus Harris 2, Spencer Goodman 7, Jake Leet 21, Hunter Grantham 14. FG 19, FT 2-4, F 14 (3-pointers: Goodman 1, Leet 4. Fouled out: none)
Webster Groves -- Drew Hanlen 18, Zach Redel 12, Vinnie Ralmondo 6, Mike Whittier 10, Johnathan Bowie 7, Jason Meehan 2, Derrick Dilworth 10. FG 24, FT 13-16, F 8. (3-pointers: Hanlen 2, Whittier 2. Fouled out: none)