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Saxony boys basketball wins first Rolla ‘Duke’ Herbert Tournament title since 2017

The Saxony Lutheran boys basketball team poses with the Rolla “Duke” Herbert Tournament Championship after beating Poplar Bluff 57-50 in the title game last Friday night in Crystal City. Submitted photo

Last week was a historic start for the Saxony Lutheran boys basketball team as it captured the Rolla “Duke” Herbert Classic Tournament Championship for the first time in six seasons.

The Crusaders won it last at the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign, which was back when they won the tournament for the third season in a row. Saxony ended that winter winning a second-straight district title.

After three-straight seasons of finishing as district runner-ups, a start like this for the Crusaders could mean a promising finish by hopefully breaking a six-year dry spell without a district championship.

Saxony (3-0) faced off against Poplar Bluff (2-3) in the tournament title game, topping the Class 6 Mules by seven points at 57-50. The senior duo of John Hartmann and Luke Eggemeyer combined for 37 points with 23 and 14, respectively.

Also coming up big and finishing with double-digit points for Saxony was fellow senior Blake Gaebler, who registered 12 points and hit one 3-pointer to Hartmann’s game-high five 3’s.

At halftime, the Crusaders actually trailed Poplar Bluff 23-18, but they produced 21 points in the third quarter alone, where Eggemeyer scored nine of his 14 points in the game after only having three in the first half. Hartmann hit three of his five treys in the first quarter as Saxony only scored five points as a team in the second.

Gaebler scored half of his points in the entirety of the fourth quarter after hitting a 3-pointer to help the Crusaders outscore Poplar Bluff 21-13 for a 39-36 lead after three.

To reach the championship game of the Rolla “Duke” Herbert Tournament for the first time in six seasons, Saxony beat Jefferson by double digits at 51-40. Eggemeyer and Hartmann were once again the Crusaders leading scorers with a combined 32 points.

Eggemeyer led Saxony in scoring with a game-high 17 points as he knocked down two 3-pointers as Hartmann only hit one three for a total of 15 points. No other Crusader recorded 10 or more points versus Jefferson as junior Wes Kiehne paced Eggemeyer and Hartmann with seven points, while Gaebler finished with five.

Much like the championship game, Hartmann had a hot start as he scored 10 points alone in the first quarter. Eggemeyer followed that up with seven points in the second and six in the fourth and final quarter, where Kiehne scored six as well.

Defensively, Saxony held Jefferson to just 14 points in the second half after only having a two-point, 28-26 lead at halftime.

The Crusaders defeated their first-round opponent Grandview with ease in what was a 42-point win for Saxony at 74-32. To no one’s surprise, Eggemeyer and Hartmann lit up the scoreboard against Grandview, outscoring the Eagles themselves by nearly combining for 50 points (48).

Luke came up with a season-high 25 points as he scored 23 through the first three quarters, while John paced him with 23 points total after scoring 12 in the first quarter. Hartmann also finished the contest with a game-high three 3-pointers as Gaebler paced him with two 3’s of his own for nine.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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