Jeeps show balance, win opener

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Northeast Dubois sophomore Grant Goller (25), being guarded by fellow sophomore Julian Gish (13) of Pike Central, watches a 3-pointer go in Wednesday night. Goller had a game-high 21 points to pace the Jeeps to a 60-50 win against the Chargers in the season opener.  


DUBOIS - If you like perimeter shooting, then Wednesday's game at Northeast Dubois was just right for you.

The Jeeps (1-0) came away with a 60-50 win on their home floor against Pike Central, with both teams making it happen from long range. Northeast Dubois banked eight shots from 3-point land, while the Chargers countered with nine shots from downtown, but 3-point shooting was just one ingredient in the recipe for victory the Jeeps cooked up on Thanksgiving Eve.

"I thought tonight was a really gutsy effort on our part," Jeeps coach Terry Friedman said. "We got contributions from a lot of guys - from (junior) Peyton Betz and the offensive rebounds - it seemed like Peyton was there every place we needed him to be when there was a loose ball tonight - to (juniors) Noah Betz and Ty Kalb knocking down shots, (sophomore) Grant Goller being Grant, he's a good penetrator, he showed that tonight."

Junior Gaige Schepers provided the early production for Northeast Dubois when he scored each of the team's first six points, and ended as one of three in double figures with 10. Noah made it rain down hard in the second quarter with four of his five 3-pointers coming in that sequence, and he ended with 15.

However, Goller took over from the second quarter onward. The Chargers held a 13-12 lead on the Jeeps after the first, and while Noah's shooting from beyond the arc gave them the lead for good Goller kept it going when he totaled seven points in both the second and third quarters, and five in the final eight minutes of play.

For him to do that the first game of his sophomore year might make one wonder if Wednesday was simply his night, or if that's a sign of things to come.

"In a fast-paced, up-and-down game, that's where Grant flourishes," Friedman said. "He's more of a transition type guy, and in a transition, he was able to get a lot of good conversions in there."

Perimeter shooting was also crucial to Pike Central taking an early lead, with senior Alex Clark and junior Kendric Sorgius each banking a shot from beyond the arch to move to a 13-8 edge. The Jeeps ended the run with a pair of free throws from junior Colby Lockard, and an and-one from Goller with 1:57 left to go in the opening quarter had the Jeeps on the brink of a tie, but he missed his free throw, and it was 13-12 after one.

The second quarter proved to be the Jeeps' turn to make it rain from long range. Junior Noah Betz gave his team the lead with his first of four shots from downtown, with his first three accounting for each of the Jeeps' first nine points of the second quarter, and they totaled 21 in all. Northeast Dubois also got Goller involved with seven points and Schepers added a bucket.

Pike Central's 3-point shooting kept itself on the heels of Northeast Dubois, such as sophomore Quade Morton narrowing it to 18-16, Clark down to 23-19 or Sorgius to 26-22, but the Jeeps held firm to prevent the Chargers from retaking the lead before halftime, and it was 33-24 going into the locker room.

That second quarter did prove essential, however, as Northeast Dubois had outscored Pike Central, 21-11 - the largest point differential in any quarter on the night.

"The Morton kid is a really good player," Friedman said. "I felt like the second half, when we switched up Colby Lockard on him, I felt like we did a better job of containing him because he was really hurting us there early not only with his scoring, but his passing once we allowed him to get too deep into the lane there. I felt like once we took him out of the equation a little bit, it allowed us to get some separation there in that second half."

Both teams enjoyed 7-0 runs in the third quarter. The Chargers used their run to begin the second half and breath down the necks of the Jeeps at 33-31, but Northeast Dubois countered with its own run later in the corner with threes from Goller and Noah as part of that 7-0 run to put the Jeeps ahead, 46-32.

The Jeeps' only basket from behind the arc in the final quarter came from Kalb - who finally got one to go in after some previous unsuccessful tries from 3-point land. They instead relied a lot on free throw shooting - going 7-of-10, or 70 percent, at the line in the final quarter, and 14-of-22 on the night.

Pike Central still tried to get back into it during the final minute. Sophomore Julian Gish's bucket brought it back down to single digits, 57-48. A score from Gish at the trimmed the Jeeps' lead to 58-50, and the Chargers took a full timeout with 17.2 seconds left.

However, Goller took the ball and scored his final points of the night down the other end to eliminate all doubt.

Northeast Dubois has Thanksgiving off, but is set to return to practice Friday, with the emphasis of working on its halfcourt offense and also trying to hone the defense.

The Jeeps will enjoy a layoff, with their next games being part of a back-to-back against a couple of Blue Chip Conference foes. They're set to play Dec. 3 at Washington Catholic, then the next night are scheduled to return home against Shoals.

"We have to understand that tonight was just the first game, and we don't want to get too high or too low right now," Friedman said. "We want to try to stay even keel and work on things. As long as we can stay humble and hungry, I think we'll be fine."

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