By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
Barr-Reeve sophomore forward Addison Wagler had an excellent season, but he might have saved his best performance of the season for the sectional championship.
The Class A No. 3 Vikings (23-1) defeated No. 9 Loogootee (18-6) 48-38 for the Class A Sectional 63 championship Saturday evening at Jack Butcher Arena behind a game-high 15 points from Wagler.
From the opening tip, Barr-Reeve was on a mission to capture its first sectional title since 2010 and its 11th overall. The two teams split the first two baskets, and then the Vikings scored seven straight points, five of which came from Wagler. Loogootee senior Colin Nelson hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first quarter to cut the lead to 9-5 left in the first quarter.
The teams traded baskets over the next eight minutes, but a Micah Bullock mid-range jumper seconds before halftime gave Barr-Reeve a seven-point lead, equaling its largest lead of the half.
Loogootee had good looks at the basket especially in the first half, due in part to the 3-2 zone defense that the Vikings were playing. In the first half, the Lions managed only 12 points, and senior Conner Wittmer was the only Lion that converted more than one field goal. Wittmer led Loogootee with four points at the half.
“For some strange reason we couldn’t hit a shot,” said Loogootee coach Mike Wagoner. “You can give Coach (Bryan) Hughes credit. He went to the (3-2) zone, and he guessed right. We just didn’t put enough in the basket.”
Loogootee came out of halftime hoping to put a dent in the seven-point deficit, but before the Lions knew it that deficit was doubled, in large part due to the play in the paint from Wagler.
The Vikings scored eight of the third quarter’s first 10 points with six points from Wagler to push the lead to a game-high 15 points, at 29-14. Lions’ guard Matt Mathies converted two 3-pointers with a Wagler’s fourth basket of the quarter in between. Senior Jacob Bledsoe added a layup to push the lead to 33-20 at the end of the third.
“Addison (Wagler) is a special, special player,” said Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes. “For that kid to be a sophomore with a body like that, and be able to make moves, I can tell you I’m excited to have him for two more years.”
In addition to Wagler’s 15 points, senior Jacob Bledsoe was the only other Viking in double figures with 10 points. Bullock added nine, Logan James and Brandon Wagler had five points apiece and Heath Graber had two points.
With the aid of some missed free throws by the Vikings, Loogootee chipped away at the deficit, and cut the lead to six on Nelson’s 3-pointer with 1:14 to play, but that would be as close as they would get. Wittmer led the Lions with 14 points in his final game as a Lion, and was the only Loogootee player to reach double figures. Mathies had nine points, Nelson scored eight, Cam Wagler had four and Will Nonte had three points.
Barr-Reeve hit 8-10 from the foul line following Nelson’s three to close out the game.
“Other than missing free throws, I thought we were very good for four quarters,” Hughes said. “We’ve had other games this year that we played very well in, but to do it on this kind of stage in this atmosphere against a quality team like Loogootee, you just have to be proud of your kids.”
Barr-Reeve will move on to the Class A Regional, which will be played next Saturday at Loogootee. The Vikings will play their first of two possible games at 12:30 p.m. against Northeast Dubois (12-12), winners of Sectional 64 at Wood Memorial. Barr-Reeve defeated the Jeeps 72-55 Dec. 21 in Montgomery.
“We’re obviously going to take a few days off and enjoy this,” Hughes said. “These guys will get back to work, they’re all about basketball. We’ll get our focus back and get ready for next weekend.”