SWITZ CITY —
This was a picture North Daviess had seen in the past.
The Cougars couldn't find the basket through the first half, and despite a fourth-quarter rally fell 39-34 to Southwestern Indiana Conference foe White River Valley Friday.
The Cougars scored 26 points in a road loss at Bloomfield Feb. 1. They also had 14 against Linton in a home contest Jan. 18.
It was the Cougars' fourth loss in the last seven games, but North Daviess coach Brent Dalrymple believes his team is not that far away following the loss.
"Anyone jumping off this team's bandwagon - you're missing it. You're missing the point," Dalrymple said. "We're close. We did not shoot the ball well. We don't practice with each other. I know people may be tired of hearing me say that, but our guys have got to play with Nick Crays maybe 20 times. Alex Wittmer comes back in January and then gets hurt and has to sit out two mores games. He's just getting back into shape. He's just finding himself." The Cougars trailed 28-18 entering the final quarter, and were able to cut the gap to 35-32 with 2:40 remaining on a 3-pointer from Adam Wagler.
White River Valley was struggling with turnovers against a pressing Cougar defense, and the Cougars nearly tied the game. But a Nick Crays' 3-pointer was short.
The teams traded baskets and with 37 seconds remaining, the Cougars trailed 37-34. North Daviess nearly came up with a steal, but the Wolverines ended with a layin that secured the 39-34 victory.
North Daviess managed two field goals in the first half, as the Wolverines took a 17-6 halftime lead.
"Our defense kept us in the game in the first half," Dalrymple said. "Nick is still trying to adapt to the thumb (Crays recently injurted the tip of his left thumb), and if you don¹t think it's not hard to play with that, try wrapping your thumb up and dribble, catch and shoot." North Daviess went the final 11:00 of the first half without a field goal after Wes Lengacher and Kelby Byer each scored a field goal in the opening five minutes of the game.
Nick Crays made two free throws in the second quarter to keep North Daviess (14-6, 4-3 SWIAC) from being blanked in the second quarter.
White River Valley (10-9, 2-5) led 7-4 at the end of the first quarter, and then outscored the Cougars 10-2 in the second.
Michael Fisher led the Wolverines in the first half with eight points and Cade Hill had five.
Hill's 3-pointer to open the second quarter gave the hosts a 10-4 lead, and Fisher added his second of the first half for a 13-6 lead.
Crays hit his two free throws with 5:28 left in the opening half between the treys.
Trey Gamble got the final points of the half for White River Valley with a field goal at the 2:00 mark.
Byer got the Cougars going in the third quarter with an early basket, and the Cougars had scored seven points in the second half on a Dusten Cook 3-pointer at the 5:37 mark of the third quarter.
But Fisher responded with two 3-pointers to give White River Valley a 28-13 lead.
Buyer cut the gap to 28-16 with a traditional three-point play with 2:35 left in the quarter.
Nick Johnson of White River Valley was called for an intentional foul with
43 seconds remaining, and Crays converted two free throws for a 28-18 margin.
North Daviess received the ball after the foul, but the Cougars couldn't convert and the Wolverines held the 10-point lead heading into the final quarter.
Byer again got the first points of the final quarter, his ninth of the game, to cut the gap to 28-20.
Wes Lengacher got North Daviess within six at 28-22, but free throws and a White River basket opened the gap to 32-22.
The Cougars then mounted the comeback, but couldn't make it all the way.
Fisher scored 14 points to pace White River and Hill had 10. Byer and Lengacher scored nine each and Crays had eight.
"I got on them at halftime, but it wasn't a yelling at them, it was yelling for them," Dalrymple said. "I told them to keep trying, to keep working, to have confidence and keep taking their shots. We are really close."