There are a handful of games that Southwestern Indiana boys basketball fans look forward to each season. The Buggy Bowl is near the top of that list.
The 2013 edition of this annual rivalry game will have the Class A No. 3 Barr-Reeve Vikings (12-1) traveling to the Cougar Den to take on the Class A No. 5 North Daviess Cougars (11-2) for the second time this season Saturday. The Vikings bested the Cougars in their gym, 44-42, in double overtime to take the Graber Post Classic Championship on New Years Eve.
The Cougars have won three straight games since the Graber Post loss. The Vikings are looking to start a new winning streak after losing at home to Class A No. 4 Loogootee on Saturday, their first defeat of the season. Barr-Reeve visits Wood Memorial (3-10) Friday.
Anytime a team matches up with the Cougars, the defensive preparation will center around keeping an eye on senior guard Nick Crays. In the first matchup, Crays scored 21 points, but was one of only two Cougars in double figures, with Wes Lengacher being the other.
"When you play a good player, you need to make them earn everything they get, and try to keep them off the foul line," said Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes. "I don¹t think we ever go in trying to shut anybody out, we just want to make him work hard to get his points." On the other side, Barr-Reeve has a dangerous lineup of scorers, but the offense runs through sophomore forward Addison Wagler. In the Graber Post championship game, Wagler led the Vikings with 11 points as part of a balanced offensive attack, which saw four different players put up eight or more points. North Daviess coach Brent Dalrymple said a lot of the success or failure of defending Wagler takes place before he catches the ball.
"You work on positioning before he catches the basketball," Dalrymple said. "You try not to let him get to certain spots on the floor, and you really stress to your kids that your footwork, positioning and getting in the weight room. Once he gets the ball in certain spots, he¹s so good that you're kind of at his mercy." In a rivalry game like this, both teams have a pretty good idea of what the other is going to try to do, and Hughes said the previous matchup certainly gives both sides a recent idea of what the other has in its arsenal.
"I think both games get a little bit of an understanding about the matchups, and how each other is going to play," Hughes said. "When you play a neighbor and sectional opponent, you're going to be familiar with what the other is trying to do, so it makes it difficult to score." As much as a rivarly as the Buggy Bowl is, Dalrymple knows that his focus must be on Friday's conference matchup with Linton, as the Cougars host the Class 2A No. 8 Linton 24 hours in advance of the Buggy Bowl. The Cougars and Miners (10-2) sit atop the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference as both teams are 2-0 in conference on the season. Dalrymple said the preparation for Wagler will be helpful for the Linton game, as they too have a powerful inside presence.
"They have two big kids that are really good basketball players," Dalrymple said. "What we have to do, as I mentioned with Barr-Reeve and Wagler, is mental preparation and knowing where you¹re supposed to be on the floor. We need to play as a team defensively to counteract some of the things they¹re going to do, which is try to throw it inside, and really take advantage of their size and their power."