Defense, athleticism spark surging Raiders

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Southridge’s Jaden Hayes nails a 3-pointer as Garrett Voegerl holds up his hand to celebrate the shot during Friday's boys basketball game in Huntingburg. Southridge defeated Boonville 53-33 as the Raiders once again held their opponent to under 40 points.


HUNTINGBURG — Throughout the season, the Southridge boys basketball team has prided itself on its defensive tenacity.

For the 10th time this season, the Raiders held their opponent to under 40 points as they defeated Boonville 53-33 to end the regular season on a nine-game winning streak.

Southridge head coach Mark Rohrer has been so impressed with how the Raiders have been able to play a very tough, physical brand of basketball without getting key players having to sit for large amounts of time due to fouls.

“Knowing that we usually just roll with the five or six man (rotation), I’m impressed with how we never seem to get into foul trouble — knock on wood for the tournament,” Rohrer said with a laugh. “They just play so hard and smart defensively and they understand their roles. The fact that they’re crazy athletic is just the icing on the cake, it’s a lethal combination to be quite honest.”

While the Raiders (18-5) held just an eight-point advantage at the halftime break, the third quarter was the big turning point as Southridge held the Pioneers (5-18) to just nine points.

Not only was Southridge’s defense on point, they also flexed their offensive muscle as senior guard Joe LaGrange scored 11 points in the quarter on the team’s Senior Night.

“I didn’t shoot very well in the first half and we were kind of struggling to score and get things going,” LaGrange said. “I just looked to make things happen and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in great spots.”

Both the Pioneers and Raiders exchanged buckets to start the game with senior forward Jaden Hayes scoring seven early points for Southridge.

But the Raiders saw an extreme momentum swing midway through the first quarter when junior forward Garrett Voegerl threw down a massive dunk that had Huntingburg Memorial Gym hype.

Southridge held a 12-5 lead at the end of the first quarter but Boonville wasn’t going away quietly. The Pioneers trimmed the lead to three early in the quarter but buckets from Hayes and sophomore forward Colson Montgomery pushed Southridge ahead 22-14 at the break.

As mentioned earlier, the third quarter is when things really started to get rolling for the Raiders. LaGrange knocked down shot after shot while Montgomery slowly but surely found his way into double-digits in the scoring column.

While Montgomery helped push the Raiders to a 39-23 lead at the end of the third quarter, he had some more tricks up his sleeve for the final stanza. Montgomery threw down two massive dunks in the fourth quarter as Southridge’s athleticism continued to wear Boonville down.

Southridge’s Joe LaGrange attempts a layup during Friday's boys basketball game in Huntingburg. The Raiders had big performances from their seniors on the team's senior night — LaGrange finished with 13 points (11 in the third quarter) while Jaden Hayes scored 14 points and Matt Price had a plethora of assists. 

“We’re all just extremely athletic,” Montgomery said. “We’ve all finally gotten the concept of playing together and everything is starting to come together at the right time.”

The Raiders finished off the 53-33 victory with strong play from several individuals — Colson Montgomery led all scorers with 22 points while it was also a big night for the three seniors. Jaden Hayes finished with 14 points, Joe LaGrange totaled 13 points and Matt Price racked up a boatload of assists.

Even though Rohrer has only worked with this group of seniors for one year, he is well aware of what they’ve brought to the program — and hopefully, the impact they’ll have in the Raiders postseason run.

“I’ve just got this feeling that these guys are going to play so well in the tournament,” said Rohrer about the seniors. “I’ve been really blessed to have these three guys not just this year but in the future. They’ll help mold some of the younger guys and show them how to do things. I want them to think short-term for now but I know long term, they’re going to have a lasting impact.”

The Raiders will begin their postseason play on Tuesday evening at Washington as they’ll face Sullivan (12-12) in the first round.

With a nine-game winning streak, the Raiders are hoping to use the consecutive wins as momentum going forward.

“Having a nine-game winning streak heading into the tournament is huge for our confidence,” Montgomery said. “Our coaches always told us that they wanted us to face some adversity so we’d be motivated but we’re all just so ready for Tuesday night.”

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