Marquette Catholic junior point guard Sammy Green is no stranger to postseason drama.
A transfer from Edwardsville, Green was a part of a heavyweight bout in the Class 4A Collinsville Sectional semifinals as the Tigers fell to the Alton Redbirds 63-59 last season. The Southwestern Conference rivals battled to the brink, with AHS guard Ty’ohn Trimble hitting 4 free throws in the final minute to secure the win for the Birds.
Now Green brings his skills to the 2A level as the Explorers enter the 2A Gibault Regional at 7 p.m. Tuesday. It will be
different, but that doesn’t make it easier.
“(The SWC) definitely helped because last year was my best year growing wise in the game of basketball,” Green said. “Without that, I wouldn’t be able to take control of the team as a point guard.
“2A kids may not be as talented, but they go 100 times harder than kids in 4A and it makes up for it. The 4A kids are talented, but 2A kids play so hard, it’s like another level.”
Marquette and East Alton-Wood River are both cast in the 2A Gibault Regional. Fellow Greater Alton schools Roxana, Civic Memorial and Alton found out Friday where they were headed, following AdVantage News’ press time.
CM plays host to a 3A regional, while the Shells — bumped up to 3A for the first time — will either be in Bethalto or at Breese Mater Dei because of seeding.
Alton either goes to Belleville East or Granite City in the 4A pool for regional action.
At Gibault, EA-WR opens its playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Monday vs. Red Bud. The Oilers are a No. 12 seed, while the Musketeers are seeded No. 9. A win will set up a showdown with No. 3 seed and host Gibault at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
EA-WR owned a 7-19 record after Tuesday’s 66-43 loss to Metro East Lutheran.
The Oilers enter the postseason with a bunch that includes: Jamie Roustio, Joel Biesk, Justin Englar, Zach Wells, Zaide Wilson and Zach Womack seeing significant minutes.
Unfortunately, EA-WR will be without leading scorer Jake Roustio and Hunter Hall in the first game of the regional. They are both out for disciplinary reasons.
The other play-in game for the regional at 6 p.m. Monday pits No. 10 Dupo against No. 11 Sparta. Marquette awaits the winner of that game on Tuesday. The Explorers are a No. 2 seed.
Marquette head coach Steve Medford believes his squad has a great chance of winning the regional crown, but he knows it won’t be easy.
The Explorers are ranked No. 5 in 2A and owned a 26-3 record after besting Gibault 48-41 on Tuesday. The Hawks are 20-7 and an honorable mention in the state.
“We’re going to go into that Gibault Regional and we’re going to have to play Gibault and Trevor Davis is a really good basketball player,” Medford said. “We know that and we know what he’s capable of doing. If we can limit his touches, play good offense and limit our turnovers on the offensive end, I think we’ve got a really good shot to win that regional. I feel confident about it, but you’re going against a coach (Dennis Rueter) who has 700 career wins and you’ve got some pretty good players on that team.
“I don’t want to have a slouch regional either. It’s a lot easier to raise that plaque when you play good, tough teams and one team is going to deserve it.”
Marquette will be led by a stingy defense and a very deep bench for a 2A squad — especially at guard.
“We’ve got a lot of good players, a lot of depth and a lot of quickness,” Medford said. “We have kids we can rotate in and out and we can really suffocate you defensively.
“We’ve got some good guards. Sammy is a phenomenal ball handler and a great player. (Isaiah) Ervin is a great player; Reagan (Snider) is a great player.”
Besides Green, Snider and Ervin, the Explorers look to seniors Nick Messinger and Bryce Pettiford, junior Jake Hall and sophomores Nick Hemann and Chris Hartrich to play valuable minutes.
“Our kids play hard and get after it and hopefully we can just keep
building on it and get better,” Medford said.
Roxana enters the 3A playoffs for the first time this season. An enrollment influx catapulted the Shells up from 2A. After winning a 2A regional two years ago and falling to Marquette in overtime in the regional finals last season, they will have their work cut out for them.
“We just want our seniors to go out the right way,” Roxana head coach Mark Briggs said. “We have 6 seniors so we want them to not throw the towel in — and they won’t. We want to play for something in the regional. Our first regional game we’re going to try and make the game we want to win. In a 3A regional we have to start small. For us that’s more than small; that’s a big goal for us to find a way to compete if not knock off someone in that play-in game, because we’re most likely going to be the last seed.”
The Shells were 12-16 after a 72-65 loss to Vandalia on the road Tuesday. They haven’t had a losing season since 2009-10, their only losing campaign in the last decade.
Roxana will be paced by senior Zach Golenor, a 1,000-point scorer in school history. He’s complemented by fellow seniors Cody McMillen, Zack Haas, Trey Kelley, Jacob Maguire and Dakota Stumpf. Juniors Mikey Ross, Logan Presley and Brayden Davis will also contribute valuable minutes.
It will be a pool of programs the Shells haven’t seen much of through the regular season.
“We’ve seen CM, we see Jerseyville down at Pinckneyville, but outside of that we don’t see many of those 3A teams,” Briggs said. “It’s a different world and we’re hoping we’re not in that world long. It’s like an out-of-body experience. I’d like to see it and be done with it, because it’s definitely a different world we’re not wanting to mingle in for sure.”
CM will also be cast in the 3A pool. The Eagles’ high-tempo play will fuel them, specifically a pressuring defense. They will be at home no matter their seed and looking for big things.
CM is 18-8 after losing 44-32 to Mater Dei Tuesday. It is tied atop the Mississippi Valley Conference standings with a 5-2 mark with three conference games remaining.
The Eagles are led by senior David Lane and junior Jaquan Adams as their only double-digit scorers. Caden Clark, Cameryn Gerhardt, Brandon Hampton, Jaxsen Helmkamp, Geoffrey Withers and Bryce Zupan will provide big minutes, too.
CM last won a regional in 2014-15.
The Redbirds welcomed the return of senior guard Maurice Edwards from an ankle injury last week and hope to get junior guard Kevin Caldwell Jr. back from injury when they head to Edwardsville on Friday.
AHS entered the week with a 13-9 record. It hopes to capture some of the success it’s had in the 4A playoffs the last two seasons when it won regional crowns and advanced to consecutive sectional title games.
Outside of Edwards and Caldwell, seniors Trimble, Dereaun Clay, Damion Reid and Tyler Springman contribute, as well as junior Darrell Smith and sophomores Donovan Clay and Terrance Walker.
The Birds will have their hands full in the playoffs with the likes of Edwardsville, ranked 2nd in 4A, and East St. Louis, which garnered honorable mention in the state.
Althoff also bumps up to 4A after winning the 3A state title last season, but Saint Louis University recruit Jordan Goodwin is out with a shoulder injury and won’t return.
It should be an interesting postseason for everyone and Green may have found the answer to success for all the players as they begin their playoff journey.
“We need to continue to listen to coach,” he said.