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Eagles unable to slow Barr-Reeve

Eagles unable to slow Barr-Reeve
Eagles unable to slow Barr-Reeve
Lanesville players Connor Nolot, left, and Tripp Dillion embrace as they leave the court Saturday night. Dillion sat out the regional championship after suffering a knee injury in the semi-final earlier in the day. Photos by Brian Smith
Brian Smith, Sports Editor

Lanesville’s boys’ basketball season came to an end Saturday night at Jack Butcher Arena in a spot many figured to be unlikely: playing for a Class 1A Loogootee Regional championship.
Within Lanesville’s camp, there was always the push and drive to make a post-season run. That ride, however, closed at the hands of 1A power and No. 2-ranked Barr-Reeve. The Vikings, playing less than 10 miles from home, started fast and went on to land a 69-36 victory.
‘This is a great ride,’ Lanesville coach Mikel Miller said. ‘I told them to leave here with their heads high. As people looked at our season, not many, other than ourselves, thought what we did was possible. That’s what this group is: by any means necessary. They are fighters.’
Not only were the odds stacked against the Eagles in the championship when pitting the records of both teams ” Barr-Reeve at 25-2 and Lanesville at 15-12 ” one team had to play without its second-leading scorer. Injured during the regional semi-final win earlier in the day over West Washington, Tripp Dillion and his 15 points per game was relegated to onlooker and supporter.
‘Not having Tripp, you can’t say it didn’t make a difference,’ Miller said. ‘I don’t know if it makes a difference in the end result or score, but he would have helped us rebound.’
Struggling in the first half offensively, Lanesville found itself down 30-9 after 18 minutes.
‘We couldn’t get our shots to fall, but all props to that team,’ Lanesville senior Kevin DeSpain said. ‘Their record is what it is for a reason, and they deserve to be No. 2 in the state. I hope they go all the way. I’d rather get beat by a team that ends up winning it all, if possible.’
Barr-Reeve was a team on the ropes in its semi-final match-up versus Evansville Day. Featuring a 7-foot-1 tower in Noah Hupman, Evansville Day led most of the game before Barr-Reeve rallied for a 48-41 win.
‘(Barr-Reeve) struggled a little bit offensively this morning. Tonight, they didn’t and we did,’ Miller said. ‘Credit to them; they are a really good team. I thought we got shots early and left a couple short. It wasn’t for a lack of execution from our guys.’
With height a difference between the squads, Lanesville opted to open with a zone defense against Barr-Reeve in an effort to contain talented 6-8 junior Keegan O’Neil. Barr-Reeve capitalized early by hitting perimeter shots.
A pair of 3-pointers fell for Isaac Wagler in the first four minutes. Then, senior Gabe Gladish hit a long ball, part of his five 3-pointers. He closed with 21 points, reaching the 1,000-career point plateau in the process. Busting up the zone, Barr-Reeve raced out to a 13-2 advantage.
‘Defensively, it was a bad match-up against (O’Neil),’ Miller said. ‘I thought we could match up against the other four guys. We just didn’t have anybody for (O’Neil). We wanted to try zone early and, to their credit, they knocked down shots. Those were shots they didn’t knock down this morning. From then on, we didn’t have any choice but to go man-to-man.’
Mason Miller broke the string of Vikings’ spurts with a field goal, but the Eagles found themselves down 17-4 after one quarter.
A put-back by DeSpain in the second quarter put the score at 21-7. Barr-Reeve closed the opening half on a 9-2 burst. Four points came on second chances, while Gladish added a deep trifecta.
‘The first half, I told them to keep shooting,’ Miller said. ‘We didn’t say anything about bad shots; they just weren’t falling and it seemed to be contagious. Rebounding, we knew this was going to be a tough one. They probably doubled us because they didn’t miss a lot of shots.’
Despite the 21-point deficit, Lanesville started to find some shooting rhythm. Connor Nolot had a few triples leading to his team-best 14 points. Justin Bailey and DeSpain added long balls as well. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Barr-Reeve answered each Lanesville basket with one of its own.
‘We got a few shots to fall in the second half,’ DeSpain said. ‘Coach always tells us to play fearless and never stop, which is what we did the entire game.’
‘Our kids still played hard,’ Miller said. ‘There was no quit. In the second half, we came out and hit some shots. A lot were looks we got in the first half that didn’t go down.’
Out-sized, Lanesville senior Jack Kaufer drew a double foul when matched up with O’Neil in the second half. The two got wrapped up fighting for position on the Vikings’ offensive block before tumbling to the hardwood.
‘I thought there were times throughout the season our physical play was inconsistent but, the second part of our season, we had started to not get pushed around,’ Miller said. ‘I thought we did pretty well tonight. A perfect example was Jack tonight against their big guy. They get tangled up and get called for a double foul, and he’s not backing down. I think that set the tone those seniors set for the younger kids.’
Miller brought off the three seniors ” Ben Stacy, DeSpain and Kaufer ” in the final minute after they played portions of the fourth quarter together one last time.
‘Our three seniors ” Kevin, Jack and Ben ” were solid leaders throughout the whole season,’ Miller said. ‘They laid a nice foundation for these kids we have coming back. There is a lot of talent coming back. I told them they will have a target on their back. You will have to work even harder to give yourself an opportunity to compete for conference and sectional.’
DeSpain closed with nine points and two assists. Griffen Reynolds and Mason Miller had five points apiece. Reynolds was credited with four boards. Lanesville shot 30 percent from the field and struggled from 3-point land (4 of 23).
To go with Gladish’s 21, Quentin Yoder had 13 points while O’Neil had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Bryce Graber, the point man for the Vikings, dished 13 assists. The regional championship was the seventh for Barr-Reeve, all since 2002. It was the third post-season meeting between Lanesville and Barr-Reeve, all going to the Vikings.
‘We might not have the bigger guys like (Barr-Reeve) or as quick of guys, but we are always going to work as hard as we can as a team,’ DeSpain said. ‘We tell each other all the time how much we love the game. It’s about working hard.’
Lanesville entered the regional championship having won eight of its last 10 games, some feat after dropping eight straight during the mid-season.
‘We started out real hot then hit that dry spell,’ DeSpain said. ‘When we started to pick things back up, we regained confidence. We weren’t supposed to be here. I’m sure a lot of people counted us out, but we came back to beat South Central, Christian Academy and got a win this morning.’

Lanesville 4 5 17 10 – 36
Barr-Reeve 17 13 20 19 – 69
Lanesville (15-12) – Connor Nolot 14, Kevin DeSpain 9, Mason Miller 5, Griffen Reynolds 5, Justin Bailey 3.
Barr-Reeve (25-2) – Gabe Gladish 21, Quentin Yoder 13, Keegan O’Neil 12, Hagen Knepp 8, Isaac Wagler 6, Devin Graber 3, Bryce Graber 2, Jacob Wagler 2, Austin Ainscough 2.
3-point goals ‘ Lanesville 4 (Nolot 2, DeSpain, Bailey); Barr-Reeve 8 (Gladish 5, I. Wagler 2, D. Graber).

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