It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
The Class A No. 3 Vikings (24-1) survived a poor shooting start to defeat Northeast Dubois (12-13) 49-41 Saturday afternoon in the Class A regional semi-final at Jack Butcher Arena.
After trailing for the first three quarters, freshman Logan James hit a 3-pointer to give Barr-Reeve its first lead, 28-26 at the 6:49 mark of the fourth quarter. Junior Micah Bullock followed James’ three with two more of his own to extend the lead to 34-26 to give Barr-Reeve some breathing room for the first time all afternoon.
“That was a big shot for us,” said Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes. “Obviously once we caught back up, you got kids and they’re feeling better about themselves, and now they get a little bit more energy. Why they found the energy at that point in the game, and they couldn’t find it earlier in the game, that’s why they’re kids.”
Bullock’s two free throws pushed the lead to nine, 45-36 with 79 seconds to play, but the Jeeps weren’t ready to throw in the towel. Bryce Huebner scored five straight points, with a James turnover in between to cut the lead to four points with 47 seconds to play.
James made two more free throws, and Brandon Wagler and Addison Wagler both split a pair to give the Vikings the 49-41 victory. The Vikings will face Class A No. 10 Borden (21-3) in tonight’s regional championship game at 7:30 p.m. The Braves defeated Orleans 52-51 in this morning’s other semi-final.
Barr-Reeve and Northeast Dubois combined to shoot 4-for-20 from the field in the first quarter and the Jeeps held a 5-4 lead. In the second quarter, it didn’t get much better for Barr-Reeve. The Vikings made only three of its nine shots, and trailed the Jeeps 14-10 at halftime. The worst half of the season was perplexing for Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes considering the stage his team was on.
“We obviously didn’t have any energy, which is surprising to come into a regional game, and play with that lack of emotion,” Hughes said. “We found it; give the guys credit. We found some energy and emotion, and the only thing that matters is that we get to play again.”
In the third quarter, Addison Wagler scored 11 of his game-high 23 points, but Northeast Dubois held a 26-25 lead heading into the final quarter, thanks to Tyler Haas’ nine third quarter points. Haas led the Jeeps with 17 points, followed by Huebner with 12, Cameron Riecker with 10 and Jace Terwiske’s two points.
“He (Wagler) came down the stretch big for us in the second half,” Hughes said. “I thought Micah (Bullock) gave us a big lift with some threes.”
In the fourth quarter, Barr-Reeve was just too much for the Jeeps, as they outscored them 24-15 down the stretch. In addition to Wagler’s 23 points, Bullock added 13 points and three 3-pointers, James had eight, Brandon Wagler had three and Heath Graber had two points.
Hughes said the change in the energy level for the Vikings was the big turning point, and the scoreboard agreed with his assessment. The Vikings outscored the Jeeps 39-27 in the final 16 minutes.
“I thought we looked like a lazy basketball team to start the game,” Hughes said. “I don’t know if it was the time, playing at noon and we’ve never done that before. We sure weren’t ready to play. I’m the coach and I have to take some responsibility for that. I was just very surprised more than anything, at our lack of emotion to play. You have to play this game with emotion.”
Barr-Reeve will have a quick turnaround tonight with the tip off against Borden will takes place less than six hours after the Vikings victory over Northeast Dubois.
“You’ve got to get food in them, and you have to get them off their feet,” Hughes said. “We’ll regroup with what Borden does, and try to be ready to go.”
It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
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