By Dennis Glade
LOOGOOTEE — What a difference a year makes.
At this time last year, Barr-Reeve had suffered a disappointing one-point loss to eventual state champion Borden, 43-42 in the regional championship.
This year, however, was a different story and it started with the youngest starter on the Barr-Reeve roster — Logan James. James scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Vikings (25-1) to their first regional championship in four years in the 69-60 win over Northeast Dubois (12-13) Saturday night at Loogootee.
"I was trying to get my team past this hump that we didn't get past last year," James said.
In front of a capacity crowd at the famed Jack Butcher Arena, Barr-Reeve came out on fire, led by its point guard. The Vikings outscored the Jeeps 15-8 after an early 4-4 tie to take a 19-12 lead at the end of the first. Sophomore Logan James led the charge with nine points in the opening quarter to lead Barr-Reeve. Northeast Dubois did what it could to keep pace, as Jacob Gress scored 10 points.
"They're a very difficult team to play, because they're so big and physical," said Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes.
The Vikings continued to push the tempo offensively and the Jeeps had no answer. Barr-Reeve pushed the lead to 28-16, its biggest lead of the first half, but a late charge by Northeast Dubois cut the lead to 30-24 with two minutes to play in the half. An Addison Wagler lay in, followed by James' second 3-pointer of the half gave Barr-Reeve a 35-24 halftime lead. The Jeeps trailed by 11 at the half, but they were giving Barr-Reeve everything it could handle, something they couldn't do in the first meeting — a 64-45 Barr-Reeve victory on Jan. 4.
"They were not healthy when we played them the first time and that's a known fact," Hughes said. "They were struggling with some health issues, and once they got healthy they went on a roll and played good basketball. I knew that was going to be a war."
In the second half, Barr-Reeve and Northeast Dubois continued to throw punches back and forth, with neither team giving an inch on each possession. The Vikings held a double digit lead for most of the half, but it felt much closer. Barr-Reeve outscored the Jeeps 12-10 in the third quarter to extend the lead to 47-34 and James had 21 to lead the way. Northeast Dubois punished Barr-Reeve on the boards all night and made every shot inside five feet a challenge, which made James performance even more valuable.
"We needed someone like a Logan James to step up and he did," Hughes said.
Over the final eight minutes, James was 9-of-10 from the foul line to help Barr-Reeve salt away its first regional championship since 2010. Hughes is in his 29th year of coaching high school basketball and in his 22nd at Barr-Reeve and he couldn't recall many performances that could top James' Saturday night.
"Logan James was outstanding," Hughes said. "That may have been one of the best point guard performances in a long time. I just thought he was outstanding and for three quarters he took over when someone needed to take over."
Northeast Dubois was led by Tyler Haas with 19 points, Jacob Gress had 16 and Cameron Riecker added 15 points, but it wasn't enough to overcome James' big night.
James paced the offense with 29 points, but Micah Bullock added 19, Addison Wagler had 14, Chris Wittmer and Connor Swartzentruber had three points each. The Vikings will travel to semistate Saturday with the location unknown. Depending on the winner's of Saturday's regional championship games. The site will be either Richmond or Seymour.
"We've been good, but the only thing that matters is that we get to play again," Hughes said. "All that matters is we get to play next week and we'll try to get that job done and get to Indy."