Jeeps bag runaway win on Senior NightFebruary 27, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
DUBOIS — The Northeast Dubois fans gave Reece Bauer and Ethan Ziegler a standing ovation during a timeout with 2:14 to play in the fourth quarter Thursday night. Bauer and Ziegler stood at center court as they saluted the Northeast Dubois faithful in return. The pair walked off their home court for the final time in their careers, as junior Logan Mehringer subbed in for Bauer and sophomore Colby Pieper took over for Ziegler as the Jeeps (13-10) cruised by Tecumseh with a 57-35 win on Senior Night.
“It means a lot,” Ziegler said. “You go through all your childhood, from basically kindergarten through middle school, to play varsity basketball. It hits you in that moment, and it’s just amazing. It’s great to go out with a win, too.”
“Yeah, I agree,” Bauer added. “It was a big moment. I grew up just admiring all the Jeep basketball players that came through here. It was huge for me to step right in, play varsity basketball four years. It was special to come off that court for one last time.”
It hadn’t sunk in yet for Ziegler that he won’t be playing in his home gym anymore after Thursday. He will miss it, totaling eight points, all in the first quarter, on Thursday. Bauer had nothing but love for his home gym, finishing with 15 points in his last-ever game on his home court. Both of them agreed it’s been an easy place to play during their careers.
“They’re two kids that they love the game of basketball,” Jeeps coach Terry Friedman said. “They love competing, and they love winning.”
Basketball is a game of runs, and that’s something the Jeeps took to heart on Thursday. The Braves held an early 6-5 lead, but it was all Jeeps from that point on. Bauer made two free throws with 4:46 to play in the first quarter for a 7-6 lead, and Northeast Dubois never looked back. The Jeeps took that 6-5 deficit, and turned it into a 16-8 lead off of an 11-2 run. They then went on a 17-0 run to start the second stanza for a 33-15 halftime lead.
“It was enjoyable tonight to see us as a team play a complete game,” Friedman said. “This is a team throughout the course of this year that has put together some really good games, and we put together three quarters — three-and-a-half quarters, at times — of really good basketball. It was fun tonight, and it was a very positive thing for us heading into the tournament to play four solid quarters. We made it a challenge tonight to win every quarter, and we accomplished that goal.”
Friedman expressed prior concerns about his team’s rebounding this season, but grabbing boards proved to be no so much problem on Thursday. They limited the Braves on their offensive rebounding. The Jeeps attacked the glass, pushed the ball up the court and converted the rebounds into points as one of the contributing factors to their large first-half runs.
“We worked hard in practice this week, worked on our block outs, worked on finding somebody to hit when they were coming in for offensive rebounds,” Bauer said. “We did really well tonight finding somebody to block out, and we got the job done on offensive and defensive rebounds.”
Bauer has been a scoring force during his career, becoming the all-time leading boys scorer during his senior year. But the Jeeps’ scoring did not depend on Bauer alone Thursday. Six different players appeared on the score sheet against the Braves, and it was junior Lane Knies who had a game-high 20 points.
“This has been building for a while,” Friedman said. “We saw it two or three games ago. (Junior) Nick Lueken has established himself as a very capable scorer. Lane’s confidence has grown. He’s started to practice better about two or three weeks ago, and he’s playing much more confident, and he’s playing with a certain air about him now that we know he wants the ball, and he’s doing a really good job with it. You throw those two out there with Ethan and Reece, we’ve got some good balance in our score sheet right now.”
The road to the first sectional championship since 2014 officially begins Tuesday for Northeast Dubois when the Jeeps take on Cannelton at Springs Valley. Coaches often talk about the importance of their team peaking and playing at their best come sectional time. It will remain to be seen if this Jeeps team fits that description, but Friedman thought that was certainly applicable on Thursday.
The 14th-year Jeeps coach wants his players to stay focused on their defense heading into the sectional opener. He praised their ability to create turnovers, force bad shots and get out and go with it after their rebounds.
Northeast Dubois came away with a 66-48 win on Jan. 21 on the road against the 6-17 Bulldogs, but Friedman noted that records can be thrown out once it’s tournament time. He added they have to be ready to go every night. The Jeeps are three wins away from giving Friedman his fifth sectional championship as the team’s head coach.
“It’d mean a lot,” he said. “It’d mean a lot to our community and to this team. It’s for the kids. This group has worked hard, and I would like to see them rewarded for that.”
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