Raiders remain hot, defeat Titans



HUNTINGBURG — The polar vortex has done little to nothing to cool down what’s going on with the Southridge boys basketball team. The Raiders have been humming along since mid-December (minus a couple bumps), and continued the trend as they defeated the Gibson Southern Titans 60-33 on Thursday night for their fourth win in a row and third straight conference victory.

Southridge head coach Mark Rohrer highlighted the defensive effort from his players as they never allowed over 10 points per quarter during the game.

“We wanted to get back to dictating the types of shots our opponents get,” he said. “We’re not really a team that tries to get a lot of steals, don’t really try to speed people up a whole bunch. They’re a patient basketball team, but we still wanted to make sure we didn’t have any breakdowns of the defensive end that gave them good looks. Throughout the first half and for the most part the second half we did a tremendous job of that. I just thought our guys were really locked in on the defensive end.”

The Raiders (13-5, 6-1) were able to spark it up quickly thanks to an early layup by senior center Jaden Hayes and a follow up three-pointer from sophomore guard Colson Montgomery. Senior forward Dawson Witte scored the first five points for the Titans (4-9, 0-2), but Hayes along with senior guards Matt Price and Joe LaGrange laid down a few more scores to give the Raiders an 11-5 edge after one quarter of play.

Witte slashed in for a face up jumper in the paint to start the second quarter, but LaGrange came right back with a three after junior guard Garrett Voegerl found him for the open shot near the top of the key. Another three-pointer from LaGrange would be sandwiched between moonshots from Witte and junior guard Aidan Neel. But thanks to a Hayes putback and a pair of fastbreak buckets for Montgomery Southridge was able to maintain control of the game as they built themselves a 26-13 halftime lead.

Hayes and Montgomery would strike once again as the big man connected with a streaking #23 in the lane to start the third quarter. Witte, junior center Avery Gick, and senior forward Adam May each were able to find their shots at different points during the third, but the Raiders put together a late 9-0 run to put themselves up 41-21 with less than a minute left in the quarter. LaGrange finished the third by knocking down his third triple and giving the Raiders a 21-point lead going into the fourth.

The final quarter saw Montgomery and Hayes combine for 13 of the team’s 16 points to close up shop and put the game away for the Raiders. Neel, May, and senior guard Andrew Smith kept the fight up for their team, but the Titans simply didn’t have enough to keep up as the Raiders went on to their third consecutive conference win.

Montgomery finished the game with 24 points to lead a scorers. Hayes had 18 points, and LaGrange tacked on another 13. Witte led the Titans with 12 points.

“At the beginning it was kind of a slow start, but we’re playing as a team (and) trying to keep winning,” said Montgomery. “I’m just trying to play more relaxed. If I play more relaxed, then everyone else plays more relaxed. And we’re all trying to get each other open too, we’re not just trying to focus on one person. Jaden is going to have a night and Joe’s going to have a night. When we play relaxed we’re pretty hard to beat.”

“Their offense likes to move the ball so we had to work a little bit on defense,” added Voegerl, who had two points but also accounted for four assists and six rebounds. “But we moved the ball on our part and got the win. We’re going to keep on working no matter what.”

With their tenth win the last eleven games Rohrer is excited about what he is seeing from the Raiders at this late juncture in the season. He thinks that the boys are in a good place physically and mentally as he thinks about the sectional tournament, and loves the way they have bounced back from their slugfest against Heritage Hills a few weeks ago to put together this latest successful string of games.

Now, the focus is on maintaining the good times and preserving the team’s legs as they prepare for their final few games of the season.

“We’re shortening practices, giving them a little time off to get their bodies right,” said Rohrer. “We’ve got a bunch of competitive kids that have a good mindset. We’re just in a really good spot and we want that positive momentum to continue these last five games we got in the regular season moving forward to the tournament.”

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