Jeeps drop 57-48 decision to Evansville ChristianFebruary 25, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
DUBOIS — Thursday evening’s contest between Northeast Dubois (8-14) and Evansville Christian began with a bang. As the Jeeps hustled out of the locker room for pregame warmups, the Northeast Dubois band belted out a rendition of Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” from the “Rocky” series.
The gritty contest featured a hefty amount of back-and-forth action. The Jeeps fell in their final regular-season game — a 57-48 battle rife with twists and turns.
“I thought we played hard tonight,” Northeast Dubois head coach Terry Friedman said. “I think we could have handled their pressure a little bit better there. In the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter, I thought we kind of lost (freshman Josiah Dunham). He was kind of a key focus for us defensively, and we let him get free.”
Both teams favored the paint in the game’s opening stanza. Evansville Christian held the early advantage, but Northeast Dubois senior Nick Lueken made a heads-up defensive play in the final seconds of the first quarter.
Lueken poked the ball loose toward the Jeeps’ sideline and pounced on it. Friedman called a timeout and prepared the Jeeps for their final offensive possession of the frame.
Lueken isolated himself at the top of the key, recovered the ball after a bobble and launched a 3-pointer from just past the volleyball line. The ball swished smoothly through the net as the horn sounded.
The Eagles held a 15-14 lead after Lueken’s miraculous shot, but points came at a premium in the second quarter. Northeast Dubois senior Logan Mehringer sank a deep 3-pointer of his own with 1:20 left to play in the half. The squads scratched and clawed for 50-50 balls before Jeeps sophomore Peyton Betz gave Northeast Dubois a 25-24 lead at the intermission.
“At halftime, we felt like we could make some adjustments,” Friedman said. “In the third and fourth quarters, we didn’t handle their pressure as well as we had hoped. Defensively, there were a few things that kind of got away from us.”
Lueken led the Jeeps with seven first-half points, while Mehringer contributed five points in the first two frames. Northeast Dubois junior Colby Pieper showcased his athleticism with a rugged offensive rebound and soft finish early in the third frame. Lueken and Dunham traded pull-up jumpers, but neither team gained a significant advantage for much of the third quarter.
The Jeeps settled into a halfcourt zone and limited the Eagles’ attacks toward the basket. Dunham carried Evansville Christian’s load as the teams battled to a 36-36 standstill.
As the fourth quarter began, Mehringer answered Dunham’s layup with a triple from the top of the key. A smattering of proficient shooting gave the Eagles a 45-39 lead before the Jeeps cut the deficit to 45-42.
With just 2:25 left in the game, Mehringer created some string music after sinking a trey in the right corner. Dunham gave Evansville Christian a 52-45 lead with a floater in the middle of the lane. Eager to respond, Mehringer converted an and-one opportunity with 28.4 seconds remaining.
Dunham iced the game with a series of free throws. Mehringer finished the game with a team-high 19 points, and Lueken chipped in with nine points. Dunham racked up a game-high 26 points for the Eagles.
“I think we learned a lot from this game tonight,” Friedman said. “We’re going to have to take some of the things that we learned tonight and work on those as we get ready for the tournament next week.”
Northeast Dubois will face Evansville Day in an opening-round 1A Sectional 64 game on Tuesday at Wood Memorial.
“I’m proud of our seniors,” Friedman said. “They fought hard tonight. We’ve still got the tournament here. We’ll be ready next Tuesday night.”
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