Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.

Charleston had the daunting task of facing Teutopolis on its home court in its opening game at the ninth annual Christmas Classic Wednesday evening.

The Wooden Shoes spurred by their stingy defense, sank three 3-pointers, sparking a 23-9 first quarter lead they never relinquished, in a 75-60 defeat of the Trojans.

Charleston will play Dixon at 10:30 a.m. today (Thursday) at Teutopolis High School during the first session of the day.

“One of the things we wanted to try was to up the tempo a little bit with not only our press, but pushing in the offensive end and getting up the court quick,” Charleston boys varsity head coach A.J. Alexander said. “Sometimes, when we up the tempo turnovers can happen; defensive miscues can happen which can lead to open shots as well.”

Charleston held a 7-6 lead midway through the first quarter thanks to the hot hand of 6-foot-2 senior guard Caleb Oakley. Teutopolis took a 4-0 lead behing a pair of buckets from senior Caleb Bloemer. The 6’2” senior scored just 17 seconds apart before Charleston’s 6-5 senior James Hess displayed athleticism under the basket in getting to the basket, which enabled the Trojans to equalize the score.

Oakley, who led all scorers with 21 points, drilled a 3-pointer that prompted a timeout from Teutopolis boys varsity head coach Chet Reeder. 

“That was big,” Alexander said. “One of the things that’s been part of the game plan was try to get Caleb going a bit. Willie (6-2 senior guard William Applegate) can go out and get his bucket when he needs to. Caleb can, too, but he’s not been getting the shots he’s been wanting lately. It was great seeing him get his shot again. because he can, he showed us. He can be the dual threat player that he’s showed us.”

Teutopolis, though, responded by going on a 17-3 run buoyed by two 3-pointers from Brendan Niebrugge and one from Logan Roepke.

Alexander said there were times that the uptempo play worked to Teutopolis’ advantage.

“It was just one of those things that they had those shots fall in that tempo, and we had too many turnovers.”

Charleston continued to push the ball against Teutopolis’ full-court press and was successful in breaking into the offensive zone, but an Applegate charge under the basket negated that possession.

“Those are tough,” he said. “We want to play with that tempo. When we break the press we tell the guys get to the rim get to the rim. So it’s tough to get those charge calls that you might not agree with. However, at the same time, we have to tell the guys to play with that speed but play with control, and know when to slow it down. T-town did a good job of getting guys into position when we were trying to push it, too.” 

When Teutopolis was done airing it out from behind the arc in the first half, they went to the post with senior Caleb Siemer in the second half. The 6-5 senior, limited to just two points in the first half, erupted for 15, including 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, or a team-high 17.

Teutopolis denied the electric Applegate scoring opportunities, limiting him to just six points. Oakley, picked the team up by dropping 14 points in the second half. But Teutopolis relied on its solid perimeter shooting in the first half to put a sizable distance on the scoreboard between them and the Trojans. 

“With their (Teutopolis) depth, it’s tough,” Alexander said. “Number 10 (Garrett Gaddis) came in and hit two threes in the second half. We tried shutting down number 2 (Brendan Niebrugge) from behind the arc. Other guys stepped up. It’s impressive of the team effort they have going on at T-town.”

Alexander said that they were willing to live with some offensive opportunities that benefited Teutopolis if it meant stopping others on the team.

“They had a lot of guys step up and hit a shot when they needed to hit the shot,” he said.Part of our game plan was when went to press or man or 1-2-2 we were going to have to live with some shots from guys. We lived with them and, obviously, (Niebrugge) found his 3s regardless where he was at, especially early. Guys stepped up in a lot of special ways for them.”

Charleston9121514 –60
Teutopolis2392122 –75

CHARLESTON – Dunklin 0 2-2 2, Spour 1 0-0 2, Bonstetter 1 0-0 3, Applegate 2 2-3 6, King 1 0-0 2, T. Oakley 3 0-0 8, Hess 3 0-2 6, Amartey 0 0-1 0, C. Oakley 7 3-3 21. 3-pointers: Bonstetter 1, T. Oakley 2, C. Oakley 4. Totals: 18 7-9 60

TEUTOPOLIS – B. Niebrugge 5 0-0 13, C. Bloemer 3 0-0 6, Gaddis 3 2-2 6, Roepke 2 0-0 5, J. Niebrugge 4 0-0 8, Pruemer 1 1-2 3, A. Bloemer 1 0-0 2, Lawson 1 0-0 2, Siemer 6 5-5 17. 3-pointers: B. Niebrugge 3, Gaddis2, Roepke 1. Totals:28 13-14 75.