LOOGOOTEE — In recent memory, there haven't been many games like this in the Barr-Reeve and Loogootee rivalry. Saturday night's game between the Class A No. 1 Vikings and the struggling Lions — the 2012 Class A state champion had no resemblance to the close battles the teams have shared over the years.
Barr-Reeve (10-1) never trailed in the 55-31 blowout of its biggest rival Saturday night at Jack Butcher Arena. The 23-point win was the largest margin of victory in the series since Barr-Reeve beat Loogootee 63-44 in 2009 at Kavanaugh Kourt.
After the pre-game ceremony honoring the 22 scorers to reach 1,000 career points at Loogootee and St. John, which included Hall of Fame coach Jack Butcher, the filled to capacity arena was ready to burst with excitement. The result of the first quarter completely zapped any enthusiasm for the Loogootee side. Every Barr-Reeve starter scored in the first quarter and when it was over the Vikings led 14-0. Loogootee couldn't buy a basket from inside or outside as Lions' coach Mike Wagoner almost couldn't believe what he was watching.
"That was the first time we had been shut out in a quarter all year," Wagoner said. "One thing that bothered me was we acted like we were lost for a few minutes. We talked all week in practice about getting off to a good start and not letting them get off to a hot start."
Barr-Reeve junior Chris Wittmer's three-point play to start the second quarter stretched the lead to 17-0, but Loogootee's Hayden Bell's basket stopped the run with 7:22 to play before halftime. Bell scored seven of his game-high 19 points as he tried to keep the Lions in the game.
A Connor Schwartzentruber 3-pointer put Barr-Reeve up 24-5 midway through the second, but seven straight points cut the deficit to 24-12 with two minutes to play in the half. After a Barr-Reeve miss, the Lions had a chance to cut the deficit to single digits before halftime, but a Josh Sibrel miss was followed up by five straight points by Connor Schwartzentruber to extend the lead to 29-12 at halftime.
"I thought our guys started the game ready to play and to get out to a lead like that on the road is big," said Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes. "Defensively I thought we did a nice job of getting up in them and getting a couple steals and then we got some transition stuff, which is important."
Bell continued his onslaught by scoring all 10 Loogootee points in the third quarter, but the Vikings kept firing as they got four points apiece in the quarter from Micah Bullock and Addison Wagler to keep the lead at a sizable margin at 41-22 through three quarters. Hughes was able to use some of his reserves in the fourth quarter to finish off the 24-point victory to help the Vikings bounce back from their 51-40 loss Jan. 11 to Elizabethtown (Ky.) as part of the Indiana-Kentucky Challenge Cup at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky.
Wittmer and Wagler led the Vikings with 12 points each, while Bullock and Logan James added nine points apiece. Schwartzentruber and Logan Lengacher combined for 11 points off the benghc and Duncan Roy had two points. Bell was the most consistent Loogootee offensive player with 19 points. Gabe Nolley and Dylan Street each hit a 3-pointer.
One of the keys to the game coming in was to limit Loogootee's three-point shooting and especially guard Ryan Howell, who finished with just two points. Howell scored 18 points on six 3-pointers in a loss last week to North Daviess and Hughes said he talked all week about making sure their shooters didn't have as much room to operate would be important to winning Saturday night.
"I really liked how our guys took the scouting report and what we talked about all week and how we wanted to guard them and they went out and did it," Hughes said. "The Howell kid had come off some really good shooting performances behind the arc and I think really Chris Wittmer understands how to play on that end of the floor."
Barr-Reeve will host Wood Memorial (5-7) before welcoming the North Daviess Cougars (6-4), who have won three games in a row, to Kavanaugh Kourt Saturday night for the annual Buggy Bowl game.
"It's win No. 10 and then we start over," Hughes said. "Every week is a start over for us and we'll try to get them rested up and start preparing for two home games. Any time we play Friday and Saturday, which I think is only three times this year is a situation where we look at it like you have to play eight good quarters to win a sectional and that's how we look at the Friday-Saturday format."