Jeeps command interior, erase 16-point debt

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Northeast Dubois sophomore Drew Jacob, center, celebrated with Jacob Gress and the rest of the Jeep squad in the locker room after Saturday’s comeback to win the Class 1A regional semifinals at Loogootee. Down 16 in the first half and 14 in the third quarter, the Jeeps rallied past Lanesville 55-53. For a gallery of photos, click here.

By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor

LOOGOOTEE — Trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half and 14 points with 91⁄2 minutes to play against an opponent that beat them by 18 points in the regular season, it didn’t spell the end for the Northeast Dubois Jeeps.

Instead, it marked only the start of a stirring comeback that kept their late-season momentum rolling.

The Jeeps stormed back in the fourth quarter to nick Lanesville 55-53 early Saturday afternoon in the Class 1A boys basketball regional semifinals at Loogootee. The rally advanced Northeast Dubois into the championship against top-ranked Barr-Reeve, a 51-31 winner over Trinity Lutheran in the first semifinal.

“It just shows that we come to play, and you better not quit against us until that buzzer goes off, because we’re gonna be going after it 32 minutes of the game,” Jeep senior Tyler Haas said.

“They never quit,” added Jeep coach Terry Friedman, whose team won for the 10th time in the last 14 games. “They haven’t quit all year, and they didn’t quit today.”

Lanesville (15-9) buried three 3-pointers in the first quarter and feasted on Jeep turnovers in the opening half, gliding to a 32-16 advantage near the end of the second period. Northeast Dubois (12-12) closed within 36-28 in the third quarter before the Eagles weathered the initial Jeep push, regaining a 44-30 advantage at the 1:37 mark of the third quarter.

“I thought (in the) first half defensively, we just didn’t do a very good job getting out on (their shooters). We talked at the halftime, we thought if we could get it to six or eight by the end of the third, we could get ourselves back in the game. And we accomplished goal No. 1,” said Friedman, whose team’s burst of six points in the last 1:26 of the third quarter made it a 44-36 game.

“I think our second half of defense really carried us. We were able to defensively get the stops when we needed them, and we’ve got some pretty tough seniors out there in Tyler Haas and Cameron Riecker. We rode their back.”

Riecker, who opened the fourth quarter with a steal and layup to trim the deficit to 44-38, finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Haas accumulated 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, scoring four straight Jeep buckets in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap to 50-48. Eric Dodson tied it with a pair of free throws after wrestling away an offensive rebound; in the process, Dodson (six points, seven rebounds) also drew the fifth foul on Jason Harmon, who paced Lanesville with 12 points.

Then, after a Lanesville free throw and a Jeep turnover, Riecker snared a rebound and hurled a pass ahead to Drew Jacob for a layup, foul and three-point play — and the first Jeep lead of the second half at 53-51.

“We knew we had a size advantage coming into the game. Me and Eric didn’t come out right on the inside,” Haas said. “Luckily in the second half, we started fighting for the ball more, we got them in foul trouble ... and that really helped us come out with a win.”

Lanesville’s Ryan Fulkerson knotted the game at 53 by bouncing in a layup with 1:06 left, but 19 seconds later, Jacob found Haas inside and the Jeep forward nailed the two decisive foul shots. Northeast Dubois committed a turnover and missed two free throws inside the final minute, but they brushed off the missteps as Haas rejected a shot, Lanesville committed an offensive foul and then Joe Ferree’s 3-point attempt that would have won the game banged off the backboard and iron as time expired.

The Jeeps successfully resisted Lanesville’s frisky pressure once they got settled; the Eagles piled up 16 points off nine Jeep turnovers in the first half but managed just two points off four Jeep miscues for the game’s remainder.

The backdrop of the rally was just as crucial, noted Haas, owing part of the surge to the hearty Jeep crowd that pumped up the volume through each step of the comeback.

“When our crowd started getting into it, we started getting into it a lot more, and that really helped us, that motivated us to try even harder,” Haas said. “I feel like the crowd, without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do this.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at bperkins@dcherald.com.




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