In the first couple of minutes of the game, Windsor’s boys basketball team pinned Festus under its own goal.
The Owls took five shots and controlled the offensive boards five straight times before senior Grant Siegel finally put the ball in the basket to give Windsor a 2-1 lead.
“That was worrisome. I thought if they rebounded at that rate, we were in for a long night,” Festus head coach Jason Therrell said.
As the Jefferson County Activities Association large-schools game played on, a warm gym became hot, but Windsor couldn’t sustain the offensive intensity it showed early as Festus held the Owls to five points in the first quarter in a 50-37 victory in Imperial on Friday night.
Siegel tied with Festus sophomore DaMarion Anderson and Tigers junior Collin Reando with a game-high 11 points in both teams’ conference opener. Festus (4-7) hadn’t played since losing to Jefferson in the Bob Sechrest Jr. Christmas Tournament on Dec. 30. Windsor (6-6) registered a season-high in points in a 76-69 win against Fox on Jan. 8.
In the win over the Warriors, junior Derek Williams returned from a broken ankle he suffered playing quarterback during football season, and had 15 points and seven rebounds in his return. Williams was held scoreless against the Tigers.
“We’ve got to get him knowing the system and we didn’t put him in position to be successful tonight and that’s my fault,” Windsor head coach Jason Gillman said.
“I don’t know what our shooting percentages (32.6) are tonight, but they’re probably single digits. Festus did a great job, had a good game plan and executed.”
Junior Hunter Metteer also returned recently from an injury to add even more depth to the Owls, who have perhaps the deepest bench in the JCAA.
“Windsor can score on all three levels,” Therrell said. “(Matt) Martin’s a really good player inside. Siegel and (Pierce) Hartmann are really good wing players and Sonny (Amabile) is a really good point guard. And (Norman)Alford is a freight train in transition. They have a really good offensive team. It was a weird game tonight. It was about 120 degrees in the gym. I don’t know if those conditions allowed either team to show what they could do offensively. They’re going to win a lot of games.”
A 3-point basket by Amabile cut the Tigers’ lead to 6-5 with 46 seconds left in the first quarter, but senior Austin Coale’s putback of freshman Arhmad Branch’s missed shot gave Festus an 8-5 lead going into the second. It was Branch’s first game of the season.
Siegel nailed a 3-pointer to start the second and tie the game, but 16 seconds later sophomore Isaac Stucke drained a trey to put the Tigers for the rest of the game. Junior Cayse Martin sank another 3-point basket for Festus to give it a 14-9 lead with 4:52 left in the first half. Branch’s steal and bucket with 3:53 to play in the second made it 18-11. Siegel made a shot from the key with 3:03 left, but the Tigers scored the final four points of the half on a free throw by sophomore guard Cole Rickermann and trey by Martin with 16 seconds to go.
Hartmann and Siegel made the first two baskets of the third to trim the Festus lead to 24-19, and a free throw by Hartmann cut the lead to four points. The score was 28-24 in the third when Rickermann’s 3 and Reando’s 2-pointer came off the heels of an offensive rebound and assist by Coale giving the Tigers a 33-24 lead.
Hartmann began the fourth with a basket to make it 33-28, but Festus scored the next nine points on baskets by Martin, Branch and Reando to put the game away. Reando had seven rebounds, six assists and three steals against the Owls and is one of three Tigers (Anderson, Rickermann) averaging 12 more points per game.
“It helped moving him off the ball. He’s more of a wing-forward player,” Therrell said of Reando.
Alford leads Windsor with 12.6 points per game but was held to five on Friday.
“We got more rebounds as the game went on,” Therrell said. “(Windsor) is bigger, stronger and taller than us. They got a lot of offensive rebounds early.
“Our defense speaks for itself. We guarded and played really hard. We’ll see if it lasts. We did that against Farmington and then laid two eggs against North County and Jefferson.”
During the Tigers’ 10-day layoff, the freshmen were able to practice and scrimmage with the varsity leading to Branch’s ascension to the varsity.