TEUTOPOLIS -- The Teutopolis boys basketball team turned its recent stretch of hardship into inspiration.
The Class 2A No. 4-ranked Wooden Shoes played inspired basketball and quickly throttled Class 1A No. 2-ranked Effingham St. Anthony 63-45 in front of a sold-out crowd on Friday night.
St. Anthony coach Cody Rincker sure noticed it.
"I think Teutopolis came out with a little extra energy tonight," Rincker said. "It was senior night and having a bunch of seniors to be able to start, that had something to do with it and they're a really good ball club."
Teutopolis recently lost senior point guard Chris Ungrund most likely for the season with a back injury.
But the worst news occurred before that.
Teutopolis senior Lucas Deters' father, Ronnie, started chemotherapy for leukemia in St. Louis after the cancer returned this past Christmas.
Lucas battled back tears before the start of the game after his dad made a surprise visit from St. Louis for senior night.
"There was a lot of emotions in this game all-around because of Lucas and his dad," Teutopolis coach Jason Hanson said. "We feel for their family and pray he'll be OK. It wasn't just him. It was senior night and with Chris Ungrund not being able to play, it was tough for him. I hate to see a kid go through that."
The Shoes (22-3) swiftly pounced St. Anthony (21-3) right from the very beginning, breaking out with a 16-2 lead in the first quarter.
Teutopolis senior guard Brant Bueker ignited the early onslaught on both ends of the floor, sinking a pair of 3s and snagging a steal.
Bueker rolled through the rest of the game and a delivered five 3-pointers and a game-high 24 points.
"I lost my confidence in the last couple of games before this," Bueker said. "I've got it back now."
The bigger story was defense.
St. Anthony shot 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) from the floor in the first half and trailed 29-8 at halftime.
Although the Bulldogs found their rhythm in the second half, the deficit was too large to overcome.
Senior guard Drew Gibson led St. Anthony with 13 points.
You have free articles remaining.
"That's the main thing we've been working on: defense," Bueker said. "In the second half, it was a little rough. We gave up too many points. But in the first half, that's the defense we wanted to do."
Deters was largely quiet for most of the game, but helped spark his team's defense in the first quarter when he sprawled onto the floor for a steal.
"It was a real thrill," said Deters, who finished with two points. "Dad's been in St. Louis for about a month and he's been having chemotherapy. He came home and I didn't know about it. I was real happy to see him tonight.
"It's real great to see everybody come together in a real small community like this. Everybody just pulls in and it means a whole lot to my family."
Teutopolis and St. Anthony went wild from the perimeter during the third quarter where both teams combined for nine 3s.
It was part of the Bulldogs' desperate comeback in the second half.
St. Anthony trimmed the deficit to 10 points early in the fourth quarter but couldn't get closer.
"We just dug ourselves in too big of a hole in the first half," Rincker said. "We didn't play tough enough mentally. I"m very proud of my boys for their effort in the second half. They didn't give in and couldn't get it close enough."
It made it back-to-back losses for St. Anthony.
The Bulldogs fell to Class 3A Breese Mater Dei 69-43 on Tuesday.
They still need to visit Altamont on Tuesday, Feb. 14 with an undefeated conference record (6-0) on the line in the National Trail Conference.
Teutopolis, meanwhile, faces Class 3A No. 8-ranked Centralia today in the Benton Shooutout.
"We came out and played well. We wanted to come out and show everybody what we can do." -- Bueker