Blue Jays in College Athletics
Camps & Clinics
Duchesne was last team standing in battle for GAC North
March 21, 2011Washington High School
By Greg Neunuebel
St. Charles West sat alone atop the Gateway Athletic Conference North boys basketball standings for each of the past eight seasons.
But with longtime coach Terry Hollander and Division-I college recruit Christian Kirk out of the picture for the Warriors, the GAC North was up for grabs this winter.
In stepped Duchesne, which coach Wade Bouslog led to its first conference title in 26 years. The Pioneers went 15-12 overall and 6-0 in the GAC North. Duchesne earned its first district title since 2006 with a win over St. Dominic before it lost to Mexico by one point in the Class 4 sectional round.
"We ended up having a pretty good year," Bouslog said. "You always want to win conference but the big thing for us after losing to St. Dominic (in a district championship game) last year was we wanted to finish what we started, especially with (districts) being held at our place."
Duchesne enjoyed a home-court advantage not just in its district tournament but also in crucial conference games against Fort Zumwalt North and Fort Zumwalt South.
"Fortunately the nights when we played those teams at home we were ready to go," Bouslog said. "We'll be at their place next year. Zumwalt South and Zumwalt North will be good again, so for us to (win conference) again will be really tough. It's always a factor where you play and we know it's not something we can just come back and defend. We'll have to play well to have a chance."
A Duchesne junior leads off this year's all-conference first team.
Trevor Tune, jr., Duchesne
Having Tune on the floor was the safety net Bouslog needed to best utilize Duchesne's young talent and give underclassmen additional playing time.
The 6-foot-5 Tune was Duchesne's unquestioned leader. He followed a solid sophomore campaign by averaging 14.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He also shot 75 percent from the free-throw line in 167 attempts.
Bouslog said Tune was at his best against conference opponents.
"He really stepped up in those games and gave us what we needed in that stretch run toward winning conference," Bouslog said. "It's one thing to play well against inferior opponents and it's another to step up big when you're playing for championships."
Chaz Glotta, fr., Fort Zumwalt North
If there was a conference award for most improved team, it would no doubt go to Fort Zumwalt North.
The Panthers, after going 7-19 last year, went 20-8 and won their first district championship since 2002. They lost to eventual state runner-up Troy in sectionals. It was the first 20-win season in school history.
Much of the credit for North's success goes to Chaz Glotta, who as a freshman led the conference in scoring at 18 points per game and 3-pointers made (80). He also hit 75-percent of his 134 free throw attempts.
"I've never had any one player become such a focal point of (opposing) defenses," Zumwalt North coach Charles Glotta said. "Considering how everybody played him I think he did a phenomenal job. He dealt with pressure that very few kids face and I think he showed some of his best maturity in games where maybe he wasn't having his best night. In those situations he wasn't afraid to defer a little bit and not force things. By doing that he allowed others to step up for us."
J.R. Alexander, sr., Fort Zumwalt South
A conference title was there to be had for Fort Zumwalt South, which this year competed in the GAC North for the first time, but a five-point loss to Duchesne late in the season took the Bulldogs out of the equation.
The Bulldogs finished 15-11 overall, 6-1 in league play and had the GAC North's highest scoring offense at 61.2 points per game. But it wasn't enough to get through districts, where they lost a semifinal game in overtime to Francis Howell North.
Senior J.R. Alexander, a three-year varsity starter for Zumwalt South, led the charge with 14.5 points per game and finished among the conference leaders in every major statistical category. He was the conference leader in assists (148) and steals (82). He plans to play football at Quincy University.
"Next year will be a lot different not penciling him in the starting lineup every day," Zumwalt South coach Bill Friedel said. "A lot of our offense was built around him but he did other things for us besides score. If he wasn't scoring he was setting someone else up to score. He did a good job in our presses and setting the tone with the amount of steals he got."
Collin Zurweller, jr., Fort Zumwalt East
It was another rough ride for Fort Zumwalt East, which finished 4-22 overall and 1-6 in league play.
But among the positives, junior Collin Zurweller was one of the conference's most well-rounded players. He was second in the GAC North in scoring at 16.9 points per game and was its leading rebounder with 8.4 boards per game. He also distributed a team-high 58 assists as a forward.
"Given our record, it's kind of odd to have a kid on the first team but it shows how much respect Collin has gotten from the coaches in our league," Zumwalt East coach Terry Johnson said. "When teams play us they know they have to stop Collin and that can be a tough task. You know every night he'll give you 100 percent. He would give more if he could."
Jordan Stapp, sr., Washington
Washington was on its way to having a nice season.
Then the calendar struck February, and subsequent snow storms threw Washington and first-year coach Chip Sodemann for a loop.
"The high point was when we won our own tournament the second week of January," Sodemann said. "Right around the beginning of February when the snow came, we took a turn for the worst."
Washington, after an 11-6 start, lost six of its final seven games to finish 12-12 overall and 2-4 in the GAC North.
A rough patch to end the season couldn't minimize the accomplishments of senior guard Jordan Stapp, who scored 13.4 points per game, netted 77 3-pointers including a league-high 3.21 per game and missed just five of his 52 free throws for a 90.4 percent success rate.
"We asked him to be the guy who runs the show and it was a career year for him," Sodemann said of Stapp. "He set school records for most threes in a season (77), most threes in a game (nine) and most threes in a career (159). And he did all that against defenses designed to stop him. I may go the rest of my career without another shooter that has that kind of consistency."