By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
Another chapter of the Loogootee/Barr-Reeve boys’ basketball rivalry is in the books, and for the third consecutive year the road team prevailed.
Class A No. 6 Loogootee (11-2, 5-0 Blue Chip) defeated Class A No. 2 Barr-Reeve (12-1, 4-1) 50-47 Saturday evening at Kavanaugh Kourt in a game the Lions never trailed.
The Vikings fought tooth and nail to make up for their slow start in order to have to win the game in the final seconds, and that had their opportunity. Down three with 14 seconds to play, Barr-Reeve had the ball. Senior Brandon Wagler had a contested look at the tying 3-pointer, but it didn’t find the bottom of the net, and Barr-Reeve’s furious comeback fell three points short.
The Lions shot out of a cannon to start the game, and silenced the Barr-Reeve crowd by running out to a 15-4 lead after the first quarter. Loogootee connected on three 3-pointers in the opening quarter, two from junior Matt Mathies, and one from senior Conner Wittmer. Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes thought the buildup to the intense rivalry game had an impact on the youthful Vikings.
“I think for the first time all year we showed a little bit of youth and inexperience in a big basketball game,” Hughes said. “Their (Loogootee) seniors came out ready to play.”
Mathies connected on his third 3-pointer of the game in the opening minute of the second quarter to push the Loogootee advantage to 18-5, the Lions’ largest lead of the night. Barr-Reeve answered with a 7-0 run on an Addison Wagler layup, and two free throws, and a 3-pointer from junior Micah Bullock to cut the lead to 18-12. Loogootee scored the next five to push the lead to double digits, but Barr-Reeve clawed to cut the lead to 29-22 at halftime.
“Getting off to a quick start was key,” said Loogootee coach Mike Wagoner. “We knew they were going to make a run, they’re that good of a team. They tied it a couple of times, but we answered the run with baskets of our own. And we did that.”
Barr-Reeve got its home crowd energized in the third quarter as they cut the lead to four on two different occasions, but couldn’t take the lead. Trailing by only four points entering the final quarter, the Vikings appeared to have the momentum. After two Addison Wagler free throws, the game was tied at 42, the first tie since the game was 0-0.
Addison Wagler led the Vikings with 16 points, but didn’t hit a shot from the field in the final eight minutes, Wagoner said Wittmer’s defense on the sophomore forward was important down the stretch.
“I told him (Wittmer) to front him,” Wagoner said. “Make them throw it overhead, and try to push him under the basket. I said don’t let him catch it close, because when he does that, he’s very hard to guard. I said be physical with him without fouling him.”
The only other Viking in double figures was Bullock with 14. Wittmer led the Lions with 22 points, while Cam Wagler added 11, and Mathies scored 10 points.
Wittmer missed a layup on the following possession, and senior Heath Graber had an opportunity to give the Vikings its first lead but he couldn’t convert. Missed free throws by Loogootee helped keep Barr-Reeve in the game until the very end.
Senior guard Collin Nelson missed the front end of two straight bonus attempts. Nelson, then split a pair of free throws to push the lead to 49-47 with 28 seconds to play.
The final two possessions were plagued by a wet playing surface, possibly aided by the heavy rain fall outside. First, Brandon Wagler slipped and was called for a travel. Mathies split a pair of free throws to give the Lions a three-point edge with 14 ticks on the clock.
On the final play, Bullock slipped, but was able to get the ball to Brandon Wagler, who missed the contested 3-pointer.
“Our last two possessions we had some bad luck with the floor,” Hughes said.
With seven games left in the regular season, Wagoner said it is important for Loogootee to be playing its best basketball as they head toward the sectional.
“What you take from it is, it’s a Blue Chip Conference win,” Wagoner said. “It puts us in the driver’s seat to try to get the Blue Chip crown. It doesn’t mean squat come sectional, because whoever is playing well at sectional is going to come out and play their way and win it. You can take all three of us (Loogootee, Barr-Reeve, North Daviess) and take one out, that’s how even we are.”
Loogootee 15 14 9 12 -- 50
Barr-Reeve 4 18 12 13 -- 47
Nelson 2 3-5 3 5, Wittmer 6 8-10 2 22, Mathies 3 1-2 2 10, Matthews 0 0-0 1 0, Nonte 1 0-0 0 2, C. Wagler 5 0-0 3 11. Totals 14 12-17 13 50.
North Daviess (47)
B. Wagler 1 1-2 1 4, Bullock 3 7-9 2 14, A. Wagler 6 4-4 3 16, Bledsoe 1 1-2 3 2, James 0 3-6 3 3, H. Graber 2 1-1 2 5, McMullen 0 0-0 1 0. Totals 13 17-23 15 47.
3-point goals: Loogootee 6 (Mathies 3, Wittmer 2, C. Wagler), Barr-Reeve 2 (B. Wagler, Bullock)