Boys Varsity Basketball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Mar 9, 2019
- STARS: 69
FRANCIS HOWELL HIGH SCHOOL: 76
Stars Fall one Step Away From State
ST. CHARLES • Patrick Schulte waited more than three months for his chance.
Come Saturday he got it.
When the Francis Howell boys basketball team took on McCluer North in the championship of the Troy Invitational on the last day of November, Schulte was not with his team. A high-level goalkeeper that has signed with St. Louis U., Schulte was playing for his soccer club at a national tournament in Florida. McCluer North got the better of an undermanned Howell that day.
On Saturday, Schulte showed what the Vikings were missing. The 6-foot-4 senior guard scored 22 points, including 12 in a row to open the third quarter, as Howell held off McCluer North 76-68 to win a Class 5 quarterfinal at Hyland Arena on the campus of Lindenwood University.
The No. 3 large school in the STLhighschoolsports.com rankings, Francis Howell (28-2) will make its first state semifinal appearance when it faces CBC at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Hammons Student Center on the campus of Missouri State University.
It's a dream come true for a Howell team that has spent this season chasing history.
“Coach talks about making history. That's what our goal was at the beginning of the year, the final four,” Schulte said. “Knowing that later in the season that'd it be history, we've been pushing towards it and now we're ready for even more history.”
The Vikings were ready to make history but the Stars had history on their side. The No. 9 large school, McCluer North (26-4) have won three state titles in the last 12 years and were making their first quarterfinal appearance since 2013. The senior-laden squad walked into a gym that was overflowing with Howell blue and gold and were unfazed. The Stars controlled the first quarter and held a 17-11 lead when it was over.
Then the Vikings got loose.
Fueled by its unselfish offense and strong defense, Howell exploded for 25 points in the second quarter. Senior forward Matthew Schark and sophomore center Sam Thompson each hit 3-pointers in the early going. Senior point guard Daylan Dalton grabbed an offensive rebound and flicked his wrist as the buzzer sounded and found the bottom of the net to give the Vikings a 36-25 lead at halftime.
“They're a hard team to guard. They're a hard team to defend even for a good defensive team like us,” McCluer North coach Trevor Laney said. “They can score from five different positions. If you don't rotate perfectly on defense and guys hit shots, there's not much you can do. They can get them from anywhere. One little defensive breakdown and they made us pay.”
All five Howell starters scored in double figures and all of them hit at least one 3-pointer. Schulte was the high-man with 22 points. He also grabbed five rebounds. Dalton scored 14 points and handed out six assists. Senior guard Matthew Simmons and Thompson each had 13 points. Junior forward Matthew Schark had 11 points and nine rebounds.
“We know what we have. We know we have quality kids that work hard in practice every day,” Howell coach Kurt Jacob said. “These kids care so much. They care about each other. They have that 'it' factor. They hate to lose and that means so much.”
The starters were the engine but the Vikings needed their bench in spurts, too. Sophomore guards Preston Fortner and Sam Maddox were called upon when Schulte went to the bench in the second quarter with three fouls. Fortner had a sensational assist out of a double-team to Simmons for a layup during the huge second quarter. Maddox buried a pair of one-and-one free throws with 1 minute and 43 seconds to play that gave the Vikings a 70-64 lead.
“It's a collective effort one through thirteen. They all push each other and they all really care,” Jacob said. “It's neat when you have a bunch of kids that care about each other, care about winning and see a result like this it makes it gratifying.”
McCluer North trailed by 17 when Schulte's personal run of 12 consecutive points ended midway through the third. It picked itself off the mat and slapped together a 12-2 run that trimmed Howell's lead to 50-43 with 2:11 remaining in the third.
The Stars closed the gap to 55-51 16 seconds into the fourth after senior guard Steven Lee was fouled on a 3-point attempt and buried all three of his free throws.
But every time McCluer North inched closer, Howell had the answer. Dalton hit his second 3-pointer of the game on the ensuing possession.
The Stars had a golden opportunity to put the Vikings under immense pressure. Howell was clinging to a 70-66 lead with 1:29 to play. McCluer North came down and launched three 3-pointers and missed them all. Schark grabbed the rebound and started a parade of free throw attempts for the Vikings as the Stars fouled to stop the clock and get the ball back.
“I have to congratulate Coach Laney. He's a quality coach who runs a quality program. Those kids play their hearts out for him,” Jacob said. “Best team we've played all year, by far. It makes this victory even sweeter because we beat a team that's a hell of a team.”
Senior forward A'Tavian Butler led the Stars with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Evans scored 16 points and had four rebounds. Senior guard Steven Lee finished with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Senior point guard Mekai Ray had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.
“These guys are a special group. They knew Howell was really good. We knew it was going to be a complete battle,” Laney said. “We knew nobody was blowing anybody out in the game. It was going to come down to a few possessions. It was going to come down to who hits shots, who gets the loose ball, who gets the offensive rebound. We didn't beat ourselves. They beat us. Hats off to them.”
It's the first state semifinal for Howell but also for its coach. During his eight years at McCluer the Comets made the quarterfinal twice and were beaten both times. Now he and the Vikings will make their state debut together.
"These kids deserve it," Jacob said. "They earned it."