ELNORA — Linton-Stockton (17-4) is widely considered one of the best small schools in the state, but Friday night in the Cougar Den, North Daviess made a case for themselves, proving they were better — at least for that 32 minutes and by six points, 66-60.
However, for anyone who has watched the Cougars that was no surprise. ND not only moved to 17-3 but the win also delivered the team an undefeated SWIAC title.
The win was the biggest Coach Brent Dalrymple remembers in the last five years.
“The win was the win we were looking for all season. We have had some really close ones, but this was a big one. It was the best we have played this year,” said Dalrymple. “This has been so much fun. I have a lot of respect for coach Hart, and they are so good, but we didn’t let them speed it up.”
“It may have seemed like we were taking time off the clock, but we weren’t. We were just looking for the right shot and it paid off.”
Linton’s Lincoln Hale may have had 35 points, but ND countered with four in double figures, including 22 from sophomore Jaylen Mullen. ND also got 14 from Logan Wilson, 12 from Daryn Lengacher, 11 from Ike Wolford and seven from Lance Wilson.
ND knocked down nine treys, but more importantly, went 15-17 from the free throw line.
Mullen popped an early trey to give ND a 3-2 lead, however two buckets from Hale made it 7-3. Mullen stayed active with ND’s second bucket as well. Lance Wilson added a triple and ND was back within one. ND was able to use about two minutes of clock, leading to a Logan Wilson buzzer-beater and an 11-11 tie.
The see-saw battle continued with Cougar buckets from Logan Wilson, Mullen and a 3-ball from Wolford to keep it at 19-all.
Lance Wilson also scored for ND, before Mullen added a trey in the final seconds of the half to push the Cougars to a 24-22 lead after 16 minutes.
Lengacher opened the third with a basket, followed by Mullen’s second trey. Although Logan Webb answered for Linton, Logan Wilson drained from downtown as well to make it 32-29.
The Cougars continued to stay hot from behind the arc with another 3-ball from Logan Wilson. Lengacher also attacked the basket, to make it 37-32. However, a thundering dunk from Hale helped stop the ND momentum, but Lengacher knocked down a trey at the buzzer to make it 42-36 going into the final quarter.
Mullen picked up ND’s first points of the fourth and on the Cougar’s next possession, ND would take nearly four minutes off the clock before a basket and free throw from Lengacher that made it 47-41. Hale, an ISU recruit, kept the game within three, but again it was Lengacher who helped create a little breathing room.
Mullen added two free throws extending it to 51-44, while Wolford added to the lead.
Linton turned up the defensive pressure that turn into a Hale transition dunk.
Logan Wilson posted a traditional 3-point play and the Cougs were up by nine with 1:09 left, 57-48. Wolford added a big basket cutting across the lane.
Hale added a deep trey that cut it back to five, but good free throw shooting kept ND in the lead. Hale ended up make Linton’s final nine points, including a circus trey with :04.8 left, but ND had an enough composure at the free throw line to come away with the 66-60 win and a SWIAC crown.
In the JV contest, Linton won 32-30 on a last second shot. ND remains at home and faces Bloomington Lighthouse on Saturday with a 1:30 varsity tip.