CREVE COEUR -- Heading into Friday night's early-season, non-conference showdown at Parkway North High School, Ladue High boys basketball coach Chad Anderson reminded his Rams that none of his teams had ever beaten Parkway North before.
The Rams and Vikings always seem to play spirited contests whenever they match up in any sport. But for whatever reason, none of Anderson's teams had ever come out on top.
That all changed on Friday though, as Anderson's Rams delivered perhaps their best performance of the season to claim a 68-53 victory over the Vikes.
"I kind of wanted to use that as motivation," Anderson said, after earning his first win in five seasons as Ladue coach over Parkway North. "I wanted to remind them that these guys have given us trouble. We've always kind of been right there, but were never able to get over that hump."
Ladue certainly seemed motivated, especially at the start, as it sprinted out to a quick 15-5 lead, and led North 24-9 after one quarter.
The Rams then led by as many as 16 points midway through the second quarter, before eventually taking a 43-32 edge into the break.
"I thought our start was huge," Anderson said. "Our depth really came into play, especially on the defensive end. We really had guys step up for us there."
The usual suspects had solid games for the Rams, as Andrew Maddock and Cornell Johnston each scored 13 points, and Austin DaGue added 12 points to lead the offense.
The defensive effort though, was sparked by reserves Connor Spirtas and Jon Collins, who both came off the bench and gave Ladue a presence that made it tough for Parkway North to penetrate.
Guard Aaron Hines did have a game-high 24 points for the Vikes, but he was also hounded constantly by the Ladue defense, and especially Spirtas, who was able to disrupt Hines' rhythm and even took two charges from the high-scoring Parkway North senior.
"I thought Connor did a great job," Anderson said. "He's so fundamentally sound. He moves his feet well, and he kept getting to the spot before (Hines) could. It was a great job."
Ladue's best defensive stretch came in the fourth quarter, after North had cut the Rams' lead to 59-51.
There was still more than five minutes left in the game -- plenty of time for the Vikes to mount a possible comeback.
But Ladue would have none of it, as it held North to just one measly bucket the rest of the game, and knocked down five of six free throws in the final minute to eventually win by 15 points.
The Rams will enjoy some well-deserved time off over the next few days, before getting back on the court for another tough road, non-conference matchup against Westminster Christian on Thursday, December 13.
Two days later, Ladue will play Chatham (IL) Glenwood in one of the showcase games at the Terrell Ramey/Midwest Showdown Shootout hosted by Lindenwood University.
The Rams were originally scheduled to play Ft. Zumwalt North at 10 a.m. at the Shootout, but last week, tournament organizers asked Ladue if it wouldn't mind changing up and playing Glenwood at 2:30 p.m. instead.
"I don't know a whole lot about (Glenwood)," Anderson said. "We still need to watch some film on them. But playing at 2:30 instead of 10, was definitely a good incentive to switch games."
Score by Quarters ... 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 -- Final Score
Ladue ..................... 24 . 19 . 13 . 12 -- 68
Parkway North ....... 9 .. 23 .. 12 .. 9 -- 53
Ladue (4-1) -- Cornell Johnston 13, Andrew Maddock 13, Austin DaGue 12, Connor Spirtas 9, Jordan Cosby 8, Jon Collins 6, Jeremy Loftin 5, Cameron Harder 1, Adehkeem Brown 1.
Parkway North (3-2) -- Aaron Hines 24, Edin Bracic 9, Ben Campbell 7, Trent Thomas 4, Trey Richard 4, Brian Bals 3, Courtney Moore 2.