Jeeps find identity, avenge early loss to RaidersJanuary 8, 2018
By JONATHAN SAXON
DUBOIS — The Northeast Dubois boys basketball team has been going through a bit of an identity crisis. In one game they will look like they can compete with anyone, and then the next, they struggle to get definitive baskets when they need them and fall short.
But Saturday night against Southridge was a different story. The outside shot was falling, the inside game opened up, and their signature scrappy defense frustrated their cross-county rival, as the Jeeps rolled to a 58-41 victory over the Raiders on their home court.
Northeast Dubois coach Terry Friedman believes what he saw that night is the ideal version of the team that he has been waiting for all season. He looked to the team’s 60-34 loss to Southridge on Dec. 16 in the Dubois County Hoops Classic as fuel to get his team going on Saturday.
“I challenged the guys in the locker room. I said, ‘It’s been three weeks ago tonight and this team embarrassed you over in the Dubois County tournament,’” he said. “Tonight it’s more about pride, digging down, and finding yourself. Because we know we can compete with them. Tonight, what I saw was a team that played with a lot of purpose and passion. I felt like it was a total team effort.”
The Jeeps broke out to a fast, 13-2 start ignited by two early three-pointers from senior guard Alan Kerstiens.
The team also set the early tone with their defensive intensity: Kerstiens had a fastbreak steal which led to a Jeeps bucket, and senior forward Griffen Bauer threw early charges to disrupt and discourage the Raiders’ efforts. As a result, the Jeeps were able to claim a 15-6 advantage in the first quarter.
“We played as a team,” Kerstiens said. “We made the extra pass, we played good defense, and that’s what we need to do to win games.”
“I thought we played pretty amazing,” added Bauer, who has become a stronger focus for the offense over the past two games for Northeast Dubois. “We like to get up in (our opponents), and once we get the steals, our coach just tells us to run with it.”
But Southridge started to wake up a bit when they started the second quarter with their own 7-2 run to get back into the swing of things. But the Jeeps were able to make enough plays to keep the Raiders at bay, such as when senior Alex Harder found junior Reece Bauer in the corner for a fadeaway jumper as time expired in the second quarter.
Southridge coach Ted O’Brien was disappointed to see his team fall back into their early habit of slow starts that plagued them over their first four games. But, he gave credit to Northeast Dubois for coming out and playing hard against them and expected this heightened level of intensity from the Jeeps.
“We talked about how they were going to play with some passion, especially with the way our first outing went,” he said. “We knew Dubois was going to play with great effort, and when they do that they’re a really good basketball team. They take Barr-Reeve, Heritage Hills down to the wire, and those are some of the top ranked teams in the state right now. So we knew what type of basketball team they could be.”
The Jeeps started to pull away from the Raiders in the third quarter as the game started to turn into The Griffen Bauer Show. The early threes caused Southridge’s defenders to spread out in an attempt to cover the perimeter, which left Bauer in advantageous and opportunistic positions for post touches. He led all scorers with 10 points in the quarter.
“Once Alan (Kerstiens) started hitting all of those threes, they had to guard him. And then they stopped helping down on me, so I just put it in the basket,” he said. “I hope (the performance) isn’t the best one of my career, but it’s nice.”
Northeast Dubois closed out the game with a 14-10 fourth quarter, and in doing so, felt that they earned a measure of redemption for their season.
“You could definitely tell we came out looking to make a statement,” said Harder. “We wanted to even that score, and every opportunity we got we just kept expanding the lead.”
Bauer finished the game with a team-high 19 points. Kerstiens and Harder poured in 15 and 11 respectively. Reece Bauer also contributed nine points in the win.
Freshman guard Colson Montgomery paced Southridge with 11 points, and junior forward Jaden Hayes finished with nine points.
Friedman thinks the only thing his team could have done better was limit the late turnovers; they had seven in the second half which could have been costly in a tighter game. But Friedman is also going to allow himself and his team to enjoy this one, and hopes this performance leaves his boys with a lasting impression about what they are capable of accomplishing on the court.
“I think that’s the Jeep team we’ve been looking for this year,” he said. “When we’re playing well, defense is what we do. Our challenge tonight was be the best you can be, and that’s what we take pride in.”
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