By Dennis Glade
Times Herald Columnist
---- — Ten months and two days have passed since the Barr-Reeve boys basketball team has lost a game. March 9 of last year, the Vikings lost a heartbreaker in the Class A Regional Championship to eventual state champion Borden, 43-42. The loss, which took place at Jack Butcher Arena in Loogootee was a hard pill to swallow for a team that looked to have all the makings of the first state championship team in school history at Barr-Reeve.
Two months ago, the volleyball team won the school’s first state championship by defeating Lafayette Central Catholic in Muncie, and the boys basketball team has the same opportunity in front of them. The Vikings let a spot in the semistate slip through their fingers. Maybe they weren’t ready yet. Maybe it wasn’t their time. What can be certain is right now there is not a finer team in Indiana’s Class A.
The No. 1 Vikings (9-0) have taken on all comers up to this point and even took down Class 3A No. 8 Brownstown Central (6-1) in a two-point victory at North Daviess in the Graber Post Buildings Classic. Today’s game in Freedom Hall in Louisville against Elizabethtown (Ky) as part of the Indiana-Kentucky Challenge Cup will prove to be the Vikings’ toughest game of the regular season. Elizabethtown is ranked No. 17 in Kentucky’s one class system.
Barr-Reeve’s talent will be on display for fans from both Indiana and Kentucky to see. That talent begins with senior forward Micah Bullock and junior forward Addison Wagler. Wagler has been front and center since he joined coach Bryan Hughes’ starting lineup two years ago as a freshman and last year Wagler continued his evolution as the Vikings’ best player. Bullock has taken the mantle from Wagler this year in his senior season. Bullock leads Barr-Reeve in points with a 16.4 points per game average and the lefty is converting on nearly 50 percent of his 3-pointers.
In addition to Bullock’s 16 points per game, Wagler has scored 12 per game and newcomer Duncan Roy has scored 7.9 points and pulled down 6.6 rebounds per game. Logan James and Chris Wittmer have each averaged six points per game and James is averaging 4.4 assists per game. The Barr-Reeve offense, which is averaging 58 points per game gets most of the attention, but the defense has allowed just 40 points per contest and just 37 percent shooting from the field.
Hughes will field a deep team going into today’s matchup against Elizabethtown (Ky). It’s a squad with all the makings of one capable of winning the state championship. I would even call them the favorites. The down turn at Loogootee and North Daviess all but ensures the Vikings will be heavy favorites to win the sectional for the a second straight year.
This year’s Barr-Reeve team is better than the 2012-13 model and one aspect stands out — Micah Bullock. Bullock brings the Vikings something that won’t show up in the box score or in any story — confidence and swagger. Bullock’s youthful exuberance is a welcome sight in an area where basketball is taken so seriously. But what is more of a welcome sight for Barr-Reeve fans than Bullock’s immense talent.
Bullock scored 34 of the Vikings’ 64 points in a win over Northeast Dubois Jan. 4, which exemplified why Bullock’s strong play takes Barr-Reeve to the next level. In the win over the Jeeps, the senior forward hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter and seven for the game. At 6’4, Bullock creates matchup problems for just about any player he goes up against and his play will continue to elevate the Vikings to new heights over the final two months of the season.
Barr-Reeve has only played nine games this season, but I’ve seen all I need to see. After being the runner-up in the state championship in 2002, 2007 and 2010, Bryan Hughes and the Vikings will climb to the top of the mountain of Class A basketball for the first time March 29 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and win the state championship.