Sometimes inexperience isn't a negative.
Freshman guard Logan James, senior Brandon Wagler and junior Micah Bullock came into this season with no experience starting on the varsity level, but that hasn't stopped them from helping Barr-Reeve win 23 games and a sectional championship.
Wagler and Bullock were full-time starters on the junior varsity in preparation for this season when they would be full-time contributors to the Vikings varsity squad.
"One thing we try to do here is we look at kids, and if we think they're going to contribute at the varsity level then they need to be playing," said Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes said. "Both kids have far exceeded expectations. You have a lot of kids that are successful at different levels. To go up that next level from JV to varsity, they should feel good.
Brandon (Wagler) is a senior who we run sets for to shoot 3-pointers and he's done a great job this year. Micah (Bullock) has really turned into our most athletic player and second leading scorer. He's had a great year." James has made the jump from competing against eighth graders a year ago to matching up with experienced guards on the varsity level. As the primary ball handler for Barr-Reeve, James has taken excellent care of the ball.
James has 98 assists this season, to just 27 turnovers, a 3.6:1 assist to turnover ratio.
Hughes said you're not always sure how the transition from playing against eighth graders to varsity athletes will go for a freshman, but he's been happy with James' progress this season.
"I saw this summer in some of our summer games, and he had to be the guy," Hughes said. "He's done an outstanding job of running the show. We run a lot of different sets, there's a lot of different things you have to remember, and probably the most important position on the floor is a point guard.
Logan (James) has done a great job with a great assist-to-turnover ratio." For a first-time varsity point guard that grew up in Montgomery, the highlight of the season to this point was the sectional championship victory over arch rival Loogootee at Jack Butcher Arena for James.
He had seen the rivarly from afar and seen his friends and family, but getting to experience it and bring the 11th sectional championship back to Kavanaugh Kourt was special.
Hughes has said on numerous occasions this season that this year's Vikings have a great feel for each other, and genuinely want to be around each other. Wagler said the camraderie started early on continued to grow throughout the season.
"We jelled there at the start of practice," Wagler said. "We had good chemistry and it has really shown, this year we won 20 games (in the regular season) for the first time in Barr-Reeve history. We've just been able to find something that works, and have everyone play together and play hard." With sophomore forward Addison Wagler the unquestioned No. 1 option on offense, James, Bullock and Brandon Wagler continually have the opportunity to get open jump shots when Addison Wagler is double teamed. Through 24 games they have taken advantage from behind the three-point line. This season Bullock led the team by making 44.9 percent of his 3-pointers with Brandon Wagler converting 41.9 percent and James made 38.5 percent of his attempts.
"Whenever we have our shots outside we have to take those to space out the floor," Wagler said. "We have to be threats out there, because that opens up the inside game." The close knit attitude of the team has helped the younger guys have gotten more experience game by game. In all 24 games this season, the Vikings have had a very calm demeanor and a sense of always having fun out on the court.
That is a message that Hughes emphasizes before each game, and no player exemplifies that more than Bullock.
The junior guard-forward is constantly encouraging his teammates out on the floor.
"We are all real loose with each other, and that helps us stay loose on the floor, and it lets us have more fun out there," Bullock said.
Heading into the regional, James said he feels confident that as long as the Vikings stick to the game plan, there isn't anything they can't accomplish in the final three weeks of the season.
"We just have to keep it one game at a time, and not over looking any team, because that¹s what will get us beat," James said.