LOOGOOTEE — It probably won’t take long for the new tradition of a Tuesday night season opener of Loogootee and North Daviess to take hold. In a pre-Thanksgiving showdown in front of a packed Jack Butcher Arena, these two rivals showed that you can have a sectional atmosphere on the first day of the season, as Loogootee (1-0) nipped North Daviess (0-1), 44-40.
In a game that featured dominating performances from Loogootee’s Silas Bauer and ND’s Jack Townsend, it came down to the final seconds, as ND’s comeback fell just short and gave new LHS coach Ryan Haywood his first win as head Lion-tamer.
“We knew this game didn’t mean anything for the future except for the pride factor, and right now Loogootee has a 1-0 lead in pride. We had a lot of adjustments and were down pretty much the whole game. We took the lead with a 1:30 to go, and it felt like we took it to or three other times. We had some tough calls against us and it is what it is,” said ND coach Brent Dalrymple. “We made some good adjustments. This was a good test for us mentally and we need to travel as far we can mentally as we do on the floor as a team. I think we were a little shaky early, but our kids passed the test.”
In the first quarter, Loogootee’s Bauer and Jordan Wildman combined for a 5-0 Lion lead, but Townsend quickly hit a trey of his own. Bauer then added a basket off a steal, but ND kept it close after a pair of Trevor Riggins free throws.
Freshman Jaylen Mullen, who started at point guard, picked up his first two high school points off free throws that cut the margin to just 14-11, which would be how the first quarter would end.
Bauer opened the second quarter with an alley-oop, while Mullen answered with a mid-range jumper for the Cougars. Wildman added a jumper with 2:58 left in the half, as all of the first 18 Lion points came from Bauer and Wildman. Bauer added 12th point of the half, and LHS was able to go into the break with a 20-13 lead.
Kirk Wagler opened the third with a basket off a back cut, but Jalen Wildman answered for LHS. Wagler also nailed a trey to cut lead to four, 22-18 with 4:00 left in the quarter. Townsend also added a 3-pointer as the Cougars continued to chip away and cut the lead to two. Bauer punctuated the quarter with a dunk off a rebound and sent the Lions in to the final eight minutes with a 25-21 lead.
Townsend also stroked a 3-ball in the early moments of the fourth and ND had crept back to 25-24. Luke Nonte added a trey for Loogootee giving the Lions a little breathing room at 28-24 but a pair from the charity stripe from Townsend kept it close. Loogootee also got a bucket from their freshman big man Peyton Bledsoe. Townsend and Nonte traded 3s, but the Lions were able to maintain a 35-31 lead with 3:30 to play. Townsend picked up his 11th point of the quarter to bring ND back to within two. A basket from Riggins gave the Cougars their first lead since the first quarter with 1:58 left.
Bauer was able to add a free throw with 1:09 left to give LHS a slim lead, 39-38. The Cougars were then able to work the clock down to :14.5 seconds, but a slip from the Cougar ball handler led to a technical foul on the Cougar bench, and a free throw from Wildman, that led to 41-38 lead and the ball. Mullen then made both ends of a 1-and-1 and ND was back to within one at 41-40 with :9.3 left to play. However, Wildman nailed a pair of free throws 43-40, along with one from Nonte to finish it off at 44-40.
“It was a great atmosphere, two good teams and I have a lot of respect for coach Dal and his program,” said Haywood. “They were a tremendous opponent and Townsend was unbelievable. We found a way to win. We made enough plays down the stretch to get the win. It was a big win for us to get moving in the right direction.”
Townsend led all scoring with 24 points, including 15 in the fourth, while Mullen had six, and Riggins and Kirk Wagler had five each.
The Lions host their own tourney on Saturday, while North Daviess travels to USI arena to face Mater Dei on Friday. Loogootee got 16 from Bauer, 14 from Jordan Wildman, seven from Luke Note, five from Jalen Wildman and a pair from Bledsoe.
Lady Lions 52, Lady Cougars 29
LOOGOOTEE — In the first game of the girl-boy double header, Class A No. 1 Lady Lions posted a 52-29 win over the Lady Cougars. The Lady Lions put three players in double figures, Kalea Fleming led with 15 points and six rebounds, Makenzie VanHoy had 13 and six boards while Brooklyn Jones added 12 points and seven boards. Jaylen Waker also harder six points.
The Lady Cougars were led by Haley Beuhler with 15 points, while Ashley Knepp had six. Also scoring for ND was Madde Miller and Madi Lengacher had three each, and Andrianne Wagler has two.