Fatima savors Owensville tourney championship as schedule heats up

Posted 1/14/22

Fatima coach Ryan Robertson is pleased with the week-long effort to claim first place at the Owensville tournament, which culminated Saturday with a 76-53 win over Gateway Tech Elite.

“Any …

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Fatima savors Owensville tourney championship as schedule heats up

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Fatima coach Ryan Robertson is pleased with the week-long effort to claim first place at the Owensville tournament, which culminated Saturday with a 76-53 win over Gateway Tech Elite.

“Any time you can win a tournament, you want to savor it,” he said. “Our schedule turns crazy for the next three weeks so hopefully we can stay healthy and hungry.”

For a while though, the Comets will enjoy the 23-point victory over what Robertson said “might’ve been the most athletic team that we have seen this season. Their speed and ability to play above the rim are extraordinary. We were able to use zone defense to keep them in front of us and out of the paint. This was a true team effort and we had great games by several of our kids. It’s one of the cleaner games we have played in the last couple of years.”

Top-seed Fatima staked to a 13-10 after the first quarter and gained further separation at the half. However, it was the second half that proved to be the difference as the Comets extended a 28-19 lead to 49-32 by the start of the final quarter.

Nate Brandt, who earned tourney MVP honors, hit a trey on his way to 23 points as fellow All-Tournament team honoree Lee Verslues went 3-4 from long range and 8-11 from the stripe as he posted 21. Levi Roberson (4-4 FT) scored 18 and Nate Lehmen (2-2 FT) finished with seven as Easton Haslag scored five, and Cooper Kleffner finished with three. Kleffner’s six assists led the team as Verslues recorded four, and Leo Peters, Robinson, Lehmen, and Brandt added one apiece.

Brandt, Verslues, and Jacob Vanderfeltz each posted five boards and Robinson and Kleffner counted four apiece.

Brandt also had a team-high four steals and Verslues pilfered three. Lehmen had a block and took a charge.

In the semis, Fatima knocked off Steelville 72-65.

“We have the utmost respect for the Steelville basketball program,” said Robertson. “They play extremely hard and they are difficult to defend. Their spacing is fantastic and they can beat you on the drive or by shooting it from the three.”

Carrying a three-point lead into the second quarter, the Comets put together a stellar second quarter to take an 18-point lead at the break but Steelville fought back to tie the game with a 27-16 third quarter.

Brandt had a career night with 35 points on 2-6 three-point shooting and a 5-7 mark at the line. “He carried us on the offensive end and we needed every one of his buckets to pull out the win,” said Robertson.

Verslues went 4-5 from the stripe and added 14 as Robinson and Lehmen scored six each, Kleffner put in five, and Vanderfeltz, Jack Robertson, and Peters finished with two apiece. Verslues led with five assists as Haslag, Robertson, Kleffner, Brandt, and Vanderfeltz each added one.

Rebounding efforts were led by Verslues (7), followed by Brandt and Lehmen (5 each), Robertson and Vanderfeltz (3 apiece), Peters and Robinson (2 each), and Haslag, Ty Fortson, and Kleffner (1 apiece).

Defensively, Verslues collected six steals to go with four. By Brandt, as Peters and Lehmen each had a block.

“We feel this was a solid win for us having to dig down defensively and get stops when it mattered,” said Coach Robertson.

Fatima opened the tournament with an 82-38 win over the host Dutchmen.

“The guys came out with an excellent energy after having some time off,” said Robertson. “We have not done any half-court trapping this year so we used this game as an opportunity to work on it. And it paid dividends we had contributions all over the court in this one. The trapping led to turnovers and when we can get out in transition like we did we go to the next level.”

Fatima scored 38 points in transition with 33 off turnovers, with an overall mark of 59.3% from the field. Of 18 attempts, the Comets sunk eight three-pointers.

Brandt led the offense with 22 points as Verslues scored 17, followed by Kleffner (13), Robertson (7), Peters and Lehmen (6 each), Carson Schulte (3), and Haslag (2).

Brandt’s eight rebounds led the team as Matthew “Munch” Robertson and Lehmen snagged three each, and Peters, Max Stuecken, J. Robertson, Kleffner, and Vanderfeltz each posted two.

Defensively, the Comets got seven steals from Verslues as Brandt added four, and Vanderfeltz had three. Brandt led with two blocks, and Lehmen, M. Robertson, and Peters counted one apiece.

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