Saturday night at the Hatchet House, the Loogootee Lions were giving the gift of basketballs to the Washington Hatchets. And from the Hatchet perspective, it was a gift that kept on giving for four quarters.
An inexperienced Loogootee team found the going tough against Washington as the Hatchets dominated the second half in a 64-33 win.
With a roster devoid of seniors and any appreciable varsity experience, Loogootee (2-4) found the defensive pressure of Washington (2-3) too much to handle. The Lions committed 23 turnovers for the game, including at least five miscues in every quarter. As Loogootee only attempted 24 shots on the night, nearly half of the Lions’ possessions ended with a turnover instead of a scoring chance.
Washington coach Gene Miiller’s team came into the game looking to speed up the deliberate Lions’ attack with defensive pressure, and the tactic worked well.
“We wanted to come out and pressure them full court and get after’em, get them into some trap situations. We thought they struggled a little bit against traps, so we were going to trap them and get after them and try to speed them up a little bit, try to take them out of their offense,” said Miiller. “They do a nice job of running their offense and Mike does a nice job of coaching, they’re a very inexperienced team. It’s a tough situation they’re going through.”
Loogootee coach Mike Wagoner compared his team’s play to the weather outside the Hatchet House, where daylong rains had produced flood warnings that lasted well into the night.
“There was a flood on the outside, and there was a flood in here of turnovers on our part. Just a really, really bad showing for Loogootee basketball, it’s embarrassing. We’re better than that, we know we are, we’ve played better than that, we’re smarter than that,” said Wagoner. “We just haven’t shown it. We’re doing things that kids who have never played basketball before do. We have to go back and get our mental aspect prepared for every game.
“Right now, it’s just like every time somebody presses us or traps us we’re in a panic mode, just like a deer in the headlights, we don’t know which way to go,” added Wagoner.
The contest was tight early, with the Hatchets holding a 7-5 lead after one quarter and 21-14 at halftime, with Washington’s Jarrod Purdue scoring nine of his team high 12 points in the first half. But as the Lion turnovers mounted and the Washington offense began to heat up, the Hatchets took control, outscoring Loogootee 19-10 in the third quarter to take a 40-24 lead into the final eight minutes of action.
Miiller liked how his team played on both ends of the court. All nine Hatchets who played made it into the scoring column, and Washington got balanced scoring from its starters (37 points) and its bench (27 points).
“I thought the effort was really good throughout the ballgame, from all nine guys that played. I thought the effort was really good. We made some mistakes here and there, but I really liked what I saw,” said Miiller. “Offensively we moved the basketball well. We had a couple of turnovers early, but after that we settled in and moved the ball well and got good shots.”
After Purdue, Matthew Stephens added 10 points off the bench, followed by nine from reserve Jake Bedwell. Austin Ghirardelli netted nine points, followed by six points each from Colton Garland and Tyler Stoll. Connor Brown scored five points, with Andy Garland scoring four points and Jacob Overton adding three markers.
Washington committed just six turnovers and shot 27-58 (47 percent) compared to 38 percent (9-24) for the Lions. Stoll led the Hatchets, who outrebounded the Lions 24-23, with eight boards, followed by six from Purdue and five from Bedwell.
Hayden Bell led the Lions in scoring with 13 points, followed by eight from Dylan Street and seven from Gabe Nolley. Jayce Wagoner’s six rebounds led the Lion effort off the glass.
Washington claimed the reserve contest 49-26. Overton topped the Hatchets with 15 points, followed by 12 from Carson Smith and eight from Matthew Sparks. Kris Lyon led the Lions with eight points, followed by seven points apiece from Tye Collins and Luke Reed.
Washington returns to action on Jan. 3 when the Hatchets open Big 8 Conference play at Mt. Vernon. Loogootee will face Milan in the opening round of the Springs Valley tournament on Friday.
LHS 5- 9- 10- 9- 33
WHS 7- 14- 19- 24- 64
H. Bell 2 9-14 13, Howell 0 2-2 2, Street 3 0-0 8, Gillick 1 0-0 2, Nolley 3 0-0 7, Wagoner 0 1-1 1, L. Bell 0 0-4 0.
Totals: 9 12-18 33.
Purdue 4 2-3 12, Ghirardelli 4 1-1 9, Brown 2 0-0 5, C. Garland 3 0-0 6, A. Garland 2 0-0 4, Stephens 5 0-3 10, Stoll 2 2-2 6, Bedwell 4 1-2 9, Overton 1 0-0 3.
Totals: 27 6-11 64.
3-point goals: L; Street 2, Nolley. W; Purdue 2, Brown, Overton.
Junior Varsity: Washington, 49-26.