MONTGOMERY — Through the first 11 games of the season, the Barr-Reeve boys basketball team has run into only one team it couldn't handle, but win No. 11 might have been its most impressive win of the season.
The Class A No. 1 Vikings (11-1) defeated the rival North Daviess Cougars (6-6) 68-53 in the annual Buggy Bowl game at Kavanaugh Kourt behind 24 points from junior center Addison Wagler and a dominant defensive attack.
Playing without coach Bryan Hughes, who was taken to the hospital during the junior varsity game, Barr-Reeve jumped on the Cougars from the opening tip as they scored the game's first 14 points and led 17-3 at the end of the first quarter. The Vikings came out with a high intensity defensive game plan, which was spurred on by a roaring home crowd. Junior guard Chris Wittmer scored five points and led the Vikings' attack that held North Daviess to just 1-of-9 from the field.
"I thought our defensive effort and intensity really came out and our guys really came together and focused on the defensive end and contesting the shots," said associate head coach Dean Scott. "Our defense forced them to miss some of those shots, because we had a hands in their faces."
In the second quarter, Barr-Reeve continued to pad its lead by scoring the first six points to push the lead to 23-3, before a Zach Moore basket at the 4:50 mark cut the deficit to 18. The Vikings outscored the Cougars 12-7 in the quarter as Wagler scored seven of his 13 first half points and Barr-Reeve took a 29-10 lead into halftime.
"Even though we have a lot of seniors, it doesn't necessarily mean we are a veteran ball club," said North Daviess coach Brent Dalrymple. "The only guy that had played in that game before was Kelby (Byrer). I think the atmosphere got to us. I think we were ready, but the atmosphere got to us and now we know what that type of game is like."
In the second half, North Daviess came out with a fight it didn't show in the first half. Both teams traded baskets for most of the third quarter, but the Cougars weren't able to gain any ground as the Vikings got seven points apiece from Wagler and senior Micah Bullock in the quarter. Senior guard Alex Wittmer scored 10 points in the quarter for the Cougars, but Barr-Reeve held a commanding 50-29 lead entering the fourth.
"We as a team decided that in the second half we needed to learn something and we had to keep playing hard," Dalrymple said.
North Daviess outscored Barr-Reeve 24-18 over the final eight minutes as seniors as Byrer and Wittmer combined to score 20 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers from Byrer. The Vikings struggled to hit their free throws in the final minutes and all night as they made 14-of-24 from the charity stripe, but were able to close out the 15-point victory.
"We were trying to stay in front and make them hit some shots and they hit some long 3-pointers, " Scott said. "We didn't close out quick enough on some of those, but all in all we wanted to keep them from driving in the lane and make them shoot from outside as much as we could."
Wagler's 24 points led all scorers, Logan James had 14 points, Bullock added 13, Chris Wittmer had 12, Jon McMullen had three and Duncan Roy finished with two points for the Vikings. Wittmer led North Daviess with 20 points, Byrer had 16, Zach Moore added eight, Brady Helms scored six and Dusten Cook had three points.
A night after Barr-Reeve let Wood Memorial hang around for the first three quarters, Scott was happy to see the success the Vikings had when they played with intensity for 32 minutes.
"I think we're showing signs of coming together," Scott said. "The kids understand that we have to have that kind of effort every night and not let what happened Friday night get by. We can't just go through the motions and still end up in big games, we have to really bring the intensity."
The Vikings won the junior varsity game 48-18.