LOOGOOTEE — Year in and year out, there is one game that is circled on the boys basketball schedule for every man, woman and child in the towns of Montgomery and Loogootee.
The Class A No. 1 Barr-Reeve Vikings and Loogootee Lions will do battle for the 94th time Saturday night at Jack Butcher Arena in one of the most hotly contested hoops rivalries in a state known for basketball.
Barr-Reeve (9-1) is coming off a tough 51-40 loss at the hands of Elizabethtown in the Indiana-Kentucky and Loogootee (3-8) has lost its last two games to Wood Memorial and North Daviess by a combined five points — both on the Lions’ home court. The Vikings have been the top-ranked team in Class A since the start of the season and they kept that position despite Saturday’s 11-point defeat.
”We’re no different than we were a week ago,” said Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes. “One loss is not going to do anything to what this basketball team is striving for. Our No. 1 priority has been to show up every night and get better and that’s been the case.”
While the Vikings are enjoying another excellent season, the Lions are enduring some growing pains. Loogootee returned zero starters from last year’s team that won the regular season matchup at Barr-Reeve by three points, but lost the sectional championship game to the Vikings by 10 at Jack Butcher Arena. The loss of so much senior leadership has led to a rough start to the 2013-14 season for a program so used to a specific level of play.
”We’re are learning every practice and learning every game what we have to do to get better,” said Loogootee coach Mike Wagoner. “I think our last two games against Wood Memorial and North Daviess have been very good games for about three and a half quarters. Those are two games that we should have pulled out in the end and should have finished. We have young guys learning the ropes, and I know we’re 11 games into the season, but we are still trying to find a way to get over the hump as far as finishing out games.”