LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Barr-Reeve boys basketball team faced its toughest test of the season, and came away with its first loss of the season.
Barr-Reeve (9-1) lost in the second game of the Indiana-Kentucky Challenge Cup, 51-40 to Elizabethtown (Ky.) Saturday afternoon at Freedom Hall.
The Vikings had its worst first quarter of the season as the Panther’s jumped out to an early lead quickly. Elizabethtown led 9-3 four minutes into the game and 18-7 at the end of the first quarter. The slow start gave Barr-Reeve their largest first quarter deficit since trailing Loogootee 15-4 in last year’s regular season meeting.
“I wouldn’t call it shocked, but you’re playing a really good ranked team from Kentucky and they just got on us early and they beat our guys down the floor,” said Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes.
In the second quarter, the Vikings gained their footing a little bit. After a timeout with 6:46 to play before halftime, the Vikings outscored the Panthers 11-6 to cut the deficit to 26-19 at halftime. Micah Bullock, Addison Wagler and Logan James all converted three-point plays to help Barr-Reeve cut away at the lead. Barr-Reeve continued that momentum in the third quarter when it outscored Elizabethtown 12-5, including scoring the first 10 points of the quarter to take a 29-26 lead with two minutes to play in the quarter.
“I thought we showed a lot of heart by coming back in the second and third quarters to take the lead, but we just didn’t have a very good fourth quarter,” Hughes said.
Of the 12 third quarter points, the final 10 of the quarter came from Wagler, who finished with 22 points and six rebounds. Wagler was matched up with Elizabethtown’s 6’6 senior, Dominique Harding and held the center to just two points.
“Addison was a beast in there, he really was,” Hughes said. “I was really proud of the way he battled that kid (Harding) and for us to hold him to two points is something I never would have guessed.”
The fourth quarter, however, belonged to the Panthers and senior guard Ja’Von Cotton. Cotton scored the first eight points of the quarter and hit two 3-pointers to put the Vikings in a hold they wouldn’t be able to climb out of. The 1-3-1 zone defense that Elizabethtown employed was a problem in the final quarter for the Vikings couldn’t get the balance they would have liked. Wagler and Bullock (13 points) combined for 35 of the team’s 40 points. James scored three points, Chris Wittmer had two points and Duncan Roy had zero points and eight rebounds.
“I truly hoped they would go 1-3-1 against us,” Hughes said. “On the bus ride down here I thought I really hope they play that defense against us that I had seen them play, because I thought we would be able to handle it, but we didn’t handle it very well.”
The Vikings will hit the court next in the rivalry game Saturday at Jack Butcher Arena against the struggling Lions of Loogootee (3-8). A loss is never a good thing, but Hughes said his team can learn from this experience as they moved forward.
“I truly think our guys battled and played hard and that’s all you can ask for,” Hughes said.