By Mike Myers Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — It took almost three months, but the trip to the Hatchet House was well worth the wait for the North Daviess Cougars.
After seeing winter weather postpone the renewal of their county rivalry with Washington from early December, North Daviess made the most of its trip down I-69 by defeating the Hatchets 60-56 on Tuesday.
North Daviess (10-10) started strong and finished strong against Washington (6-13). ND led 14-3 after one quarter and outscored the Hatchets 22-17 in the fourth quarter to secure the Cougars’ third consecutive victory over Washington in as many seasons.
North Daviess overcame 14 turnovers but dominated the rebounding battle (34-16) and placed three players in double figures in a big win according to coach Brent Dalrymple.
“We’ve been trying to do this type of game all year. We’ve got 10 losses, and either in six or seven of our 10 losses we’ve had some sort of lead in the fourth quarter, and we just can’t finish it out,” said Dalrymple. “To see our kids do what we talk about in practice, do what we talk about in film out here on the floor, I just couldn’t be prouder of our kids for continuing to fight.
“Teams here at the end of the season can go one way or the other. They can just pack it in or just fight and fight and fight,” said Dalrymple. “You saw what we did here tonight.”
Washington led 39-38 after three quarters, but the Cougars went on a 12-4 run to open the final period and take control of the game. Dusten Cook, who led all scorers with 20 points, and Alex Wittmer both hit 3-pointers during the run as ND built as much as a nine-point lead at 54-45 with 2:50 remaining.
Washington, however, didn’t quit and eventually closed the gap to two points on a 3-pointer from Colton Garland with 1:05 left. Washington had a chance to tie or take the lead after ND’s Brady Helms missed the front end of a one and bonus with :53 on the clock. The Hatchets, however, were unable to score on the ensuing possession, and two free throws from Wittmer with :13 left helped seal the deal for the Cougars.
It was an up and down night for the Hatchets according to coach Gene Miiller.
“The second quarter, we hit some shots and got some turnovers. We turned the ball over early, that’s what got us behind early. We had five turnovers and were 1-10 shooting in the first quarter,” said Miiller. “The second quarter we played well and actually went ahead. The third quarter we built up six-point lead and then they hit back-to-back three’s (Cook and Wittmer). Cook had a great game, he shot extremely well.”
Joining Cook, who finished with four 3-pointers, in double figures for ND were Wittmer and Zach Moore with 12 points each. Moore finished with seven rebounds, while Kelby Byrer added eight points and nine boards. Helms finished with eight points.
Connor Brown had an outstanding shooting for the Hatchets, hitting five 3-pointers on the way to a team high 19 points. Garland was next with 16, followed by 10 from Matthew Stephens.
The two teams were total opposites in the first two quarters. North Daviess, behind the hot shooting of Cook (10 points) dominated the first quarter to take a 14-3 lead after eight minutes of action. But the Hatchets, with Brown netting eight points - including a buzzer beating 3-pointer just before halftime, his third triple of the half - outscored ND 20-6 to take a 23-20 into the locker room at halftime.
The Hatchets claimed the reserve contest 47-32. Carson Smith topped WHS with 14 points, followed by 13 points from Timber Shelton. Caleb Wagler paced the Cougars with 12 points, followed by Kyle Kane with nine.
Before the game, four senior members of the Hatchet basketball team were honored on Senior Night. Players Andy Garland and Austin Ghirardelli were honored before their final regular season appearance at the Hatchet House, while senior player Derek Arvin and senior student manager Zach Blubaum were honored posthumously.
In addition, prior to the tip off a moment of silence was observed for retired North Daviess teacher and coach Bill Slatton and Hatchet superfan Carl Breeden, both of whom recently passed away.
Washington will close out the regular season with a trip to Evansville Memorial on Friday. North Daviess travels to Eastern Greene on Friday for its final regular season contest.