LOOGOOTEE — South Knox hadn’t beaten Loogootee in boys basketball in quite some time, but that’s why they play the games.
South Knox (2-1) defeated Loogootee (2-3) 40-27 Tuesday night at Jack Butcher Arena behind a balanced scoring attack that featured 15 points from junior Andrew Scott and eight from Isiah Stafford.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Spartans held a slim four-point lead, but they wasted no time increasing that lead. A Scott layup and a three-point play from Isiah Stafford pushed the lead to nine with 6:24 to play in regulation. Loogootee’s Hayden Bell knocked down free throws to cut the lead to seven, but once again South Knox answered, this time with a a Stafford bucket.
Hayden Bell and Landon Bell each split a pair of free throws, and Stafford converted another three-point play to push the lead to 34-24 with 2:53 to play in regulation to put the game out of reach for the Lions. The victory was the first against Loogootee for South Knox since 2009 and the first at Jack Butcher Arena since 2008.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a program-changing win, but at the same time it just starts building towards where we want to be,” said South Knox coach Mark Rohrer.
The first half was the Andrew Scott show. The South Knox junior scored 12 of the Spartans’ 17 first half points including all seven points in the first quarter and the team’s first nine points overall. The South Knox defense forced Loogootee into four costly turnovers in the first quarter, which helped South Knox knot the score at seven after the first eight minutes.
“He (Scott) is very capable of doing that,” Rohrer said. “He scored 15, 16 and 15 in our last three games, he’s capable of that and even more. Teams are going to start keying on him even more, but at this height (6’5) he’s a tough matchup for people. I was very pleased with the start he had that carried us early.”
In the second quarter, Scott added five more points, but got help from his friends as Colten Houchin knocked down two free throws and Tucker Welton converted a 3-pointer. The Loogootee offense had three more turnovers to give the Lions seven for the half. Ryan Howell and Gabe Nolley each hit a 3-pointer to help the Lions keep pace with the Spartans in a quarter that featured five lead changes. Hayden Bell led Loogootee with 13 points, followed by Ryan Howell with nine, Gabe Nolley with three and Jayce Wagoner and Landon Bell with one point each.
“It wasn’t their offense that beat us, it was their defense that beat us,” said Mike Wagoner said. “It’s not like we don’t work on stepping through those traps. We had so many guys open on the opposite side of the floor — on the wing or down low — we just didn’t look to them. Uncharacteristically we had guys panic against the trap.”
In the third quarter, neither team could get a rhythm going offensively for much of the eight-minute period. South Knox missed its first seven shots and Scott was held scoreless for the entire quarter.
Loogootee committed two more turnovers to give them nine for the evening.
Welton converted a basket with 1:30 to play in the quarter to give the Spartans a 21-18 lead and after Hayden Bell basket cut the lead to one, Austin Sievers hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Spartans a 24-20 lead they would take into the fourth quarter.
“For probably three quarters we played about as well as we could and we were within a bucket,” Wagoner said. We had good looks, and I can’t fault our effort. Sometimes our mental aspect got a little weak on some of our passes and our choices on our passes. We have to build on that.”
Loogootee will look to bounce back at 3A Washington Saturday night.