Most folks wait until Thanksgiving Day to eat a large meal. But Wednesday night at the Hatchet House, Keegan O’Neill had a pre-Thanksgiving feast of a different kind.
O’Neill, Barr-Reeve’s 6-8, 250 lb. senior center and University of Indianapolis signee, led Barr-Reeve to a 61-36 win over Washington in the annual Thanksgiving Eve battle between the two schools.
O’Neill had seven points at halftime for Barr-Reeve (1-0) as the Vikings led 33-27. But it was in the third quarter when O’Neill and the Vikings took control. O’Neill scored eight of the first 10 Viking points of the stanza as Barr-Reeve opened the half with a 10-0 run. Overall O’Neill netted 12 points in the third and led all scorers with 23 points to go with 10 rebounds. The Viking center punctuated his night with a two-handed dunk late in the fourth quarter.
Barr-Reeve coach Josh Thompson credited O’Neill’s off the court work and attitude for his play.
“A couple of things about Keegan. He has done a great job of getting himself in a lot better shape. He’s hit it really hard in the weight room, but the big thing he’s really done is he’s slimmed down, and that’s not an easy thing in today’s world and it’s not something that we as coaches can control. All the credit there goes to him and his family,” said Thompson, whose team led 47-34 after three quarters of play. “And the other thing is being coachable. We talked about different things as far as approach, the adjustments we made at halftime after we coached him up on some things. Those are things that are just him wanting to be the best that he can be.”
Washington (0-1) was led by 13 points from Grant Niehaus, but the Vikings held Niehaus scoreless in the second half and limited coach Gene Miiller’s team to just nine second half points.
“Turnovers, bad shots, there was just nothing going for us offensively in the second half of that ballgame, and they took advantage of it. They’re a very good basketball team, they’re well coached, they have good talent and the big kid inside,” said Miiller. “I thought the first half we played fairly well. But the second half, we didn’t hit shots, we didn’t take care of the basketball. We did nothing offensively. And we really weren’t much better defensively, they seemed to score just about every time they touched the ball.
“We just have a lot of improvement we’ve got to do,” said Miiller. “We have to get healthier, we have to get kids to practice, and we have to work hard to get better.”
Devin Graber joined O’Neill in double figures with 14 points, followed by 12 from Jacob Wagler and nine from Brycen Graber. Hagen Knepp scored two points and Jamison Miller added a free throw for the Vikings.
Lance Roach scored eight points for the Hatchets, followed by six from Zach Gray and five points from Kyle Mann. Kiowa Jones added four points for WHS.
In the JV game, Washington’s Brycen Neidigh deflected an inbounds pass on Barr-Reeve’s last possession to preserve a 46-43 Hatchet win and give new Washington reserve coach Rocky Alderman his first win in Black and Gold. Alex Boyd topped WHS with 16 points, followed by 11 from Joah Horrall, 10 from Owen Gray, and nine from Neidigh. Aaron Wagler topped the Vikings with 16 points, followed by nine from Tommy Kidwell and seven from Tyson Knepp.
Washington returns to action on today when the Hatchets host White River Valley. Barr-Reeve next hits the hardwood against Orleans at Kavanaugh Kourt on Dec. 7.