By Mike Myers
LOOGOOTEE - The only thing colder than the weather outside Jack Butcher Arena on Friday was the shooting of the home team inside the arena.
On a night when the Lions unveiled their 2012 state championship banner, Loogootee suffered its first loss of the season to their longtime nemesis from Daviess County as the Washington Hatchets picked up a much needed win 46-29 over the Lions.
Washington (2-5) quickly extended a three-point halftime lead against Class A No. 1 Loogootee (7-1). The Hatchets ran off an 11-0 run to begin the third quarter and led 32-18 after three quarters, a margin which reached as many as 20 points during the fourth quarter. Washington limited the Lions to just 13 second half points on 5-14 shooting in the second half as coach Gene Miiller liked what he saw from his team on the defensive end of the floor. In particular, Miiller was happy with his team’s defense on Loogootee’s Connor Wittmer and Matt Mathies, who combined for just 13 points.
“We played really well defensively, we executed our game plan defensively really well. I thought (Tyler) Stoll and (Cullen) Arnold did a great job on Wittmer, and Jake Brashear did a really nice job on Mathies. Those were the two main guys we were trying to stop and contain,” said Miiller. “And I thought the other guys did a good job of helping on those guys and then getting back and playing their man.”
It was team effort from the Hatchets, who were led in scoring by Arnold’s 12
points. Stoll added 11, and together they were a big part of a 21-9 Hatchet rebounding advantage. Jarrod Purdue knocked down a trio of 3-pointers for nine points, followed by seven from Colton Garland. Brashear added four points and played a solid floor game in directing the Hatchet offense. Andy Garland finished with three points for WHS, which connected on 16-29 shots (55 percent) on the night.
The win against Loogootee capped a bruising pre-Christmas schedule for the Hatchets and was important according to Miiller.
“It was a big win for us. The kids understand how hard you have to play to beat good teams. We played hard tonight, we had better concentration tonight, especially defensively,” said Miiller. “This is a big win. To lose this one going into the holidays 1-6 would have been tough. But hopefully this gives us some momentum we can carry over into the second half of the season.”
Loogootee shot just 26 percent (10-38). Wittmer was the only Lion to reach double figures with 11 points, followed by seven apiece from Colin Nelson and Cam Wagler. Will Nonte rounded out the Loogootee scoring with two points.
Loogootee coach Mike Wagoner felt his team didn’t match the Hatchets when it came to the intangibles of the game.
“We just talked in the locker room about having some heart, passion, and desire when you step on the floor because people are going to come at you,” said Wagoner. “I’ve seen Washington play, they play with a lot of heart, and they play physical. I told the players before the game that they would play physical, nothing dirty but to the point that we have to handle that and attack it. And we didn’t do that.”
After trailing 11-6 after eight minutes of action, Washington rebounded and led at -halftime 19-16. The first half was marked by deliberate play on behalf of the Hatchets as WHS was able to overcome six turnovers, a statistic which was offset by Loogootee’s 4-14 shooting. Colton Garland led the Hatchets with seven points in the first half, while Wittmer topped LHS with nine points.
Loogootee claimed the reserve contest 34-18. Josh Sibrel led the Lions with 13 points, while Luke Raymond netted five points to lead WHS.
Washington returns to action on Friday when the Hatchets Mt. Vernon in a Big 8 Conference tilt. Loogootee hits the hardwood again on Friday when the Lions open play in the Springs Valley tourney against the host Blackhawks.