Union, Gateway City Elite join 33rd Owensville Tournament field

By Will Johnson, Sports Editor
Posted 12/29/21

Here over the past few years, it has felt like a carousel with teams coming and going from the Owensville Boys Basketball Tournament on a yearly basis.

One thing certain for the 33rd annual …

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Union, Gateway City Elite join 33rd Owensville Tournament field


Here over the past few years, it has felt like a carousel with teams coming and going from the Owensville Boys Basketball Tournament on a yearly basis.

One thing certain for the 33rd annual Owensville Tournament presented by The Maries County Bank is that there will be a new champion.

Jefferson City’s Jays left the tournament this year for action at William Chrisman after edging Fatima 55-53 in last year’s tournament title game.

Also departing the tournament after last year were the Rolla Home School Warriors and Belle’s Tigers.

Tournament officials were able to find replacements for two of those teams in Union’s Wildcats and the Gateway City Elite Lions out of the St. Louis area.

Due to only a seven-team tournament, the first, fourth, fifth and seventh-seeded teams will compete in a traditional bracket format while the second, third and sixth seeded teams will play a pool-style format to determine who plays for consolation, third-place and championship hardware.

Returning eight upperclassmen from a team that finished 18-7 last year, Ryan Robertson’s Fatima Comets were unanimously voted the top seed of the tournament by the other six coaches.

Entering 2022 with a 4-2 record, the Westphalians recorded victories over Eldon, South Callaway, St. Francis Borgia and Dixon.

Their two losses have come to Father Tolton Regional Catholic and Blair Oaks.

Seniors looking to lead the Comets to their first Owensville Tournament title include Leo Peters, Lee Verslues, Carson Schulte, Nate Lehmen and Jacob VanderFeltz.

Juniors rounding Fatima’s list of upperclassmen on their roster include Ty Fortson, Jack Robertson, Cooper Kleffner and Nate Brandt.

Underclassmen rounding out Fatima’s roster include the sophomore pair of Levi Robinson and Easton Haslag along with the freshmen duo of Matt Robertson and Max Stuecken.

Height will also favor the Comets with Peters, Robinson and Lehmen all listed at 6-4. Brandt and VanderFeltz also measure 6-2 giving Fatima plenty of tallness to give teams fits in the paint.

Verslues (15.8) and Brandt (15.7) lead the Comets in scoring average per game while Kleffner nearly made it a trio of double-digits scorers averaging eight points per contest.

Brandt also leads Fatima on the glass pulling down 7.2 rebounds per game while Verslues dishes out a team-high 3.2 assists per contest.

Defensively, Verslues leads the Comets averaging 2.7 steals per game followed closely by Kleffner at 2.3 thefts a contest.

Fatima will face Owensville on Monday, Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m., in first-round action.

Making their Owensville Tournament debut as the second seed are Union’s Wildcats.

Coached by Chris Simmons, he is assisted by former Cuba High School Athletic Director and head girls basketball coach Ryan Bobbitt.

Ending 2021 with a 5-5 record, the Wildcats currently own wins over Washington, Cuba, Warrenton, Pacific and St. James.

Their five losses have come to Fort Zumwalt North, Borgia, Washington, Rolla and Farmington.

Looking to claim an Owensville Tournament title in their first and last appearance include seniors Tanner Hall, Matthew Seely, Kaden Motley and Collin Gerdel.

Rounding out a small list of upperclassmen include the junior duo of Joseph LaParry and Liam Hughes.

Four of those Wildcats are listed at 6-3 or taller including Motley (6-3), Hughes (6-4), Seely (6-4) and Gerdel (6-5).

Sophomores making up the majority of Simmons’ Union squad include Kieran Wors, Trent Bailey, Ozzie Smith, Ryan Rapert and Karson Eads.

Hayden Parmenter and Jordon Allen round out Union’s roster as freshmen.

Allen and Wors are also listed at 6-3 giving the Wildcats plenty of tall bodies.

Gerdel leads a trio of double-digit scorers averaging 18.5 points per game for the Wildcats.

He is followed also in double figures by Motley at 14 points per game and Seely at 11.8 points per contest.

Gerdel is also the chairman of the boards for Union averaging a team-high 8.7 rebounds per game.

Rapert leads the team in assists dishing out five per game while Motley is the team’s leading defender recording 3.17 steals per game.

Union will open the tournament on Tuesday, Jan. 4 against Gateway City Elite at 7:30 p.m.

Gateway City Elite’s (GCE) Lions also mark their Owensville Tournament debut as the three seed.

Coming into the tournament with a 7-4 record, they have victories against area opponents in Pacific and Washington from the Borgia Turkey Tournament over Thanksgiving week.

Senior Lions making up the majority of the roster include Andrew Hall, Arlandus Keyes, Evan Bland and Dominic Darst.

Juniors donning a Lion uniform include Michael Berry, Darrion Sutton and Reggy Thigpen II.

Sophomore Seth Penney rounds out the GCE roster as the lone underclassman.

Keyes leads a pick-your-poison like scoring attack averaging 21 points per game for the Lions.

He is followed by three more players averaging double digits in Sutton (16.1), Bland (11.2) and Darst (10.1).

Sutton also pulls down 10.8 rebounds per game giving him a double-double average through 11 games.

GCE will open the tournament on Monday, Jan. 4 against Pacific at 6 p.m.

Keyes also leads the team in assists (5.2) and steals (3.5).

Marking the midway point of the tournament field, John Tolly’s Steelville Cardinals were selected as the fourth seed.

Sitting at 5-3 as of press time, Tolly’s Cardinals will be competing this week in holiday tournament action at Central (Park Hills).

Notches in the win column for Steelville have come against Dixon, Sullivan, Licking, West County and Cuba.

Losses by the Cardinals so far have come against Farmington, St. James and Richland.

With one lone senior in Toby Brown, the majority of Steelville’s squad is made up of seven juniors.

Competing in their next-to-last season of high school basketball for the Cardinals are Daniel Light, Wyatt Harris, Conner Diaz, Landon Mabe, Johnny Brice, Kyle Killeen and Cole Barton.

Underclassmen on Steelville’s roster include Owen McPeters (sophomore), Carson Mullen (sophomore) and Gage Harris (freshman).

Statistics on the Cardinals were not available at press time.

Steelville will open the tournament on Tuesday, Jan. 4 at 6 p.m., against St. Clair.

Tim Isgrig’s St. Clair Bulldogs enter the Owensville Tournament as the fifth seed with a 5-2 record.

Winning their first five games of the season, St. Clair posted wins over Newburg, Valley Park, Potosi, Owensville and De Soto.

Their two losses came to Hermann and Windsor (Imperial).

St. Clair will be led by the senior quartet of Austin Dunn, Ryan Bozada, Caden Beagle and Michael Givens.

Juniors making up the rest of the upperclassmen include Jordan Rodrigue, Caleb Walters, Hayden Johnson and Isaac Nunez.

Bulldog sophomores include Jaxson Richardson, Ty Record and Carter Short.

Freshmen rounding out a balanced St. Clair roster include Johnny Chapman, Alex Marler and Noah Ardnt.

Similar to their Highway 47 neighbors to the north, the Bulldogs also have three players scoring in double figures led by Dunn at 13 points per game.

Rodrigue is close behind at 12.5 markers per contest along with Nunez and 10 points a game.

Short is near a double double per game averaging 8.8 points and a team-high 10.2 rebounds a night.

Rodrigue also dishes out a team-high 3.67 assists for the Bulldogs.

St. Clair will open the tournament on Tuesday, Jan. 4 against Steelville at 6 p.m.

Coached by Cody Bradfisch, the Pacific Indians were selected as the sixth seed carrying a 2-7 record into the 2022 portion of the season.

Their victories have come against Owensville and New Haven.

Losses for Pacific have come against Capital City, Borgia, Gateway City Elite, Hillsboro, Rolla, Freeburg and Union.

Pacific will be led by the senior quartet of Drex Blackburn, Carter Myers, Logan Bonds and Nick Iliff.

Juniors making up the majority of the Indian roster include Jack Meyer, Cole Hansmann, Joey Gebel, Matt Reincke, Ryan Bruns and Quin Blackburn.

Sophomores Xavian Cox and Nick Bukowsky round out the Pacific varsity basketball roster.

Listed at 6-8, Quin Blackburn uses his height to his advantage averaging a double double of 14.3 points and 12.1 rebounds through Pacific’s first nine games.

Meyer also averages double figures in scoring at 10.1 points a game.

Myers leads the Indians in assists at 5.56 per game and steals with 1.78 per contest.

Pacific will open the tournament on Monday, Jan. 3 at 6 p.m., against Gateway City Elite.

In spite of having a better record than the sixth-seeded Indians, Cullen VanLeer’s Owensville Dutchmen were selected the seventh seed in their own tournament due largely to their 63-58 loss to Pacific in the seventh-place game of the Borgia Turkey Tournament.

Sitting at 3-5 going into next week’s tournament, the Dutchmen have posted wins over Cuba, Salem and Linn.

Their losses were to Fort Zumwalt North, Washington (twice), Pacific and St. Clair.

Seniors making up the majority of the Dutchmen roster include Brendan Decker, Derek Brandt, Austin Lowder, Landon Valley, Logan Evans and Bailey Wehmeyer.

Unfortunately for the orange and black, Brandt recently had ankle surgery due an injury sustained during football season.

This will sideline him from the hardwood but hopefully allow him to recover in time for baseball season in the spring.

Juniors rounding out the list of upperclassmen include Austin Luecke, Will Lauth, Bryce Payne and Charlie Whelan.

Underclassmen on VanLeer’s roster include sophomore Tanner Meyer, sophomore Layne Evans, sophomore Garrett Crosby and freshman Noah Caldwell.

Decker leads the way in the scoring department averaging 11.3 points per game for OHS.

He’s followed closely by Lauth at 10.6 points per game.

Payne lead the Dutchmen on the glass pulling down 6.4 rebounds per game.

Whelan dishes out a team-high 2.25 assists per game while Decker’s 2.5 steals per contest leads Owensville defensively.

OHS will open their portion of the tournament on Monday, Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m., against the top-seeded Fatima Comets.


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