By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
Sometimes getting the win is all you have to worry about, and that's just fine for Loogootee.
The defending state champion Lions (17-5) needed overtime to defeat Vincennes Rivet (4-18), 48-47, Tuesday evening in the first round of the Class A Sectional 63 at Jack Butcher Arena.
With 15 seconds to play in regulation, Rivet called a timeout to set up a play in the biggest moment of its season. Freshman Tanner Thomas attempted a pass to senior Colin Vieke in the back court, but Loogootee guard Colin Nelson intercepted the pass, was fouled and hit two free throws to push the lead to 41-38 with 11 seconds to play.
The Patriots rushed into the front court and called another timeout, but this time turned out much better. Thomas redeemed himself with a game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.
"One of the things we talked about in the timeout before the overtime is don't let them step back for three," Wagoner said. "Darian (Stewart) got caught looking and his man was wide open." Senior center Conner Wittmer led the Lions with 15 points, but fouled out at the end of regulation. Cam Wagler added 13 points and Colin Nelson scored 10 points and hit two 3-pointers.
The Lions gathered themselves and scored the first six points of overtime to take a 47-41 lead into the final minute of the extra period. Zach Templin cut the lead in half with 3-pointer with 34 seconds remaining. What followed was a chaotic sequence from both sides.
Matt Mathies broke the Patriots press and found Wagler, but the senior forward missed an open layup. Vieke got the rebound and made his way up court, but was called for an offensive foul. Mathies, then had the ball stripped and Vieke air balled a 3-pointer.
Will Nonte knocked down one of two free throws to put the lead to four, 48-44. Vieke made a 3-pointer as time expired, but the Patriots fell short of an enormous upset. The play of the Patriots might have been a surprise to the crowd at Jack Butcher Arena, but not Wagoner.
"Someone said that we were expected to win by 20 and I said are you nuts," Wagoner said. "Rivet is physical, good disciplined ball club. Their record doesn't mean a thing. They are going to come in and lay it all on the line and boy did they ever." Loogootee scored the first six points of the game, and led 12-4 after the first quarter. The Lions got four points apiece from Wagler and Wittmer in the first eight minutes. In the second quarter, Loogootee could manage only four points, and took a slim 16-14 lead into halftime.
"That's what's been happening to us the last three or four games," Wagoner said. "We play a good quarter, and we have a bad quarter. I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's getting too comfortable - we were up 12-4 and playing pretty decent. All of a sudden we can't find the basket." The Patriots continued to gain confidence as they outscored Loogootee 16-11 in the third quarter, and took a 30-27 lead into the final quarter. Vieke scored eight points and Colin Wirth added six points in the quarter.
The fourth quarter saw four lead changes and the Lions had an opportunity to put the game away from the free throw line, but they couldn't close out the Patriots. Darian Stewart missed four free throws in the fourth and Stewart and Wagler combined to miss the front end of three straight one-and-one shots.
The Lions responded to hit 11 of 14 free throws in the final 30 seconds of overtime and the five-minute overtime period. Stewart connected on two free throws to push the lead to six in the final minute of overtime.
Loogootee moves on to face North Daviess (15-6) Friday night at 6 p.m. The Cougars defeated the Lions Jan. 4 in Elnora 46-40.
"I'm just happy to move on," Wagoner said. "At this point in the season, you win and play the next game. You worry about who you have next."