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Senators feel the BAMN

Senators feel the BAMN
Senators feel the BAMN
The Lanesville student cheer block cheers before the Eagles head to the locker room before halftime versus West Washington. Photos by Brian Smith
Brian Smith, Sports Editor

A team motto sometimes comes to reality in the midst of a game.
It was true Saturday morning when Lanesville’s Tripp Dillion, who averages 15 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, went down with a knee injury moments before halftime.
Holding a 26-21 lead at the break, Mikel Miller went with what the kids knew best for his half-time speech: the acronym on the back of the purple sectional championship T-shirt worn by a majority of the Eagles’ faithful.
Key 3-pointers in the second half by Griffen Reynolds, Justin Bailey and Kevin DeSpain came at perfect times for the Eagles. Bailey’s came with 90 seconds to go in the contest, giving Lanesville a two-possession lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Earning a spot in the Class 1A Loogootee Regional championship, Lanesville closed out West Washington’s season, 55-46.
‘When we talked at halftime, I simply told the kids that we all love Tripp but, if we all pick up our play, we will be OK,’ Miller said. ‘They all responded well to that. In the second half, once we got some shots to fall, that was a key.’
West Washington caught fire from the outside early in the third quarter. Kaden Ables knocked down two, and Holden Bowsman had another to put the Senators up 32-30.
If there was an unease with the Eagles in closing the game out without one of its top scorers, they sure didn’t show it the last 11 minutes.
DeSpain and Reynolds buried back-to-back 3-pointers. With the energy of retaking the lead, Reynolds stepped up to take a charge on the other end.
Pushing the pace later after DeSpain pulled a defensive rebound, a transition run led to a Connor Nolot lay-in. A single Mason Miller free throw put Lanesville up 41-36 behind a buzzing Lanesville crowd inside Jack Butcher Arena.
Reynolds wasn’t the only player to come off the bench and fill in with assistance. Jacob Wernert had three of his six rebounds in the third quarter. During the course of the game, Jensin Philpott and Jack Kaufer contributed positive minutes as well.
‘Our bench was really solid,’ Mikel Miller said. ‘Jensin and Jack did a nice job in the minutes they played.’
Neither team shot favorably in the early part of the final stanza. West Washington was able to chip away at the Lanesville lead for a bit. With two minutes to play, the shifty Ables drove through the lane, drawing contact while making a field goal. The and-one brought the Senators within a field goal, 46-44.
On Lanesville’s next trip, a pass from Nolot to a wide-open Bailey in the corner resulted in the game’s final and ‘ likely most important ‘ 3-pointer. In the purpled-out corner of the arena, Bailey sent the fans off their seats when the shot went down.
‘He got himself set with a few seconds and just drained it,’ coach Miller said. ‘That was a huge shot. They got it down to a one-possession game at that point. We went up five, and they pushed down the floor. They probably forced a shot, which came up short. Connor and the guys hit a couple free throws to extend it out.’
Wernert had a late lay-in, while perfect trips to the charity stripe from Mason Miller and Nolot etched the Lanesville name in the final eight.
‘Defensively, for the most part, we were pretty sound,’ Mikel Miller said. ‘Their two leading scorers, we held under 10 points … I thought we rebounded fairly well for the game. We’ve been about controlling the boards all year.’
Nolot finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. As a team, the Eagles shot 51 percent and were a steady 4 of 9 from downtown.
Playing the 10 a.m. game, it seemed as if the Eagles needed another cup of coffee to get going. West Washington came out clicking as Harrison Sanford poured in seven of the team’s 16 first-quarter points. Leading by nine points at one point, West Washington led 18-6 after one quarter.
‘I thought early West Washington hit some shots from guys we weren’t as focused on,’ Miller said. ‘Credit those guys because they hit shots. After that, we did a better job closing out (Bowsman) and (Parker Green). (Ables) had a really nice game and hit some big shots.’
The second quarter was the Dillion and Nolot scoring show. Dillion began the rally with a jumper followed by Nolot burying a triple. A hustle put-back by Dillion then a spin move and finish by the junior evened the score at 19-all. Playing high-low with Wernert, Dillion drew contact and sank both free throws.
Dillion’s last basket came in transition. With West Washington trailers chasing him down, Dillion went up for a shot that acrobatically went in but he went to the floor in obvious pain. To that point, Dillion was playing at a high level with 12 points and three rebounds.
‘I feel bad for Tripp,’ coach Miller said. ‘He was off to a heck of a start. He had the momentum rolling. They were struggling to guard him. His teammates, all of them, picked up a little bit for him.’
The crowd quieted while Tripp was helped off the court then, soon, the Big Purple Nation cheered for the Eagles as they pushed a lead to 26-21 after a Wernert make in the final minute.
‘As soon as we walked in, I told them, ‘This has been our season, fellas. Something happens and it’s up to how we respond, by any means necessary’,’ Miller said. ‘Jacob Wernert did a really good job because of everything he did with the situation of taking Tripp’s place.’
Wernert finished with seven points, while Reynolds added six for Lanesville (15-11). Bailey made both of his shot attempts for five points. He also had six rebounds. Mason Miller closed with four points and a pair of rebounds and the same in steals. DeSpain tallied three points and six rebounds while dealing with foul trouble.
Sanford and Ables reached double-figure scoring for the Senators (10-16), tallying 15 and 14 points, respectively.
‘It’s fun,’ coach Miller said of the regional win.
The last trip to the regional championship was the 2009-10 season when the Eagles topped Northeast Dubois.

Lanesville 8 18 15 14 – 55
West Washington 16 5 15 10 – 46
Lanesville (15-11) – Connor Nolot 18, Tripp Dillion 12, Jacob Wernert 7, Griffen Reynolds 6, Justin Bailey 5, Mason Miller 4, Kevin DeSpain 3.
West Washington (10-16) – Harrison Sanford 15, Kaden Ables 14, Holden Bowsman 8, Parker Green 4, Jacob Strange 3, Bobby Stevens 2.
3-point goals ‘ Lanesville 4 (Nolot, Reynolds, DeSpain, Bailey); West Washington 4 (Ables 2, Bowsman 2).