Raiders start strong, hang on to defeat JeepsJanuary 7, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — Cross-county rivals met for a reckoning Saturday at Memorial Gym, as the Northeast Dubois Jeeps traveled to Huntingburg to face the Southridge Raiders. But in this latest iteration of the age-old Red vs. Blue struggle, it was Team Red taking home the victory, as the Raiders defeated the Jeeps 49-35 for their fifth consecutive win.
Raider head coach Mark Rohrer called it a strange kind of game, because of the Jeeps’ early strategy of holding the ball in an attempt to limit the possessions for Southridge. But Rohrer praised his boys for adjusting to the situation and closing the deal late with key shots down the stretch.
“It was a unique situation for us, because it was the first time we had a team slow it down from the start of the game that much,” he said. “They ran a lot of clock in the first quarter. Terry’s teams just play so hard, we knew they weren’t just going to go away. They made some shots in the fourth [quarter] to get them going, but our guys handled the adversity throughout the game, and we’re pleased to come out with another win.”
The first quarter was about ball control, as Northeast Dubois (4-5) did the best it could to extend its possessions and keep the ball out of Southridge’s (8-4) hands. The Jeeps used a five-guard lineup, with sophomore Nick Lueken in place of senior center Trevor Seufert, and seemed to focus their efforts on creating action on the perimeter instead of cutting inside as is their custom. But the Jeeps went blank on the scoreboard, as their passes on the outside didn’t yield many viable scoring opportunities in the face of the Raiders’ defense, and sophomore guard Colson Montgomery was able to make the most of Southridge’s possessions, with 10 of the team’s 13 points in the first quarter.
Northeast Dubois junior guard Reece Bauer was finally able to knock one in at the top of the second quarter to spark a 6-1 run to get the Jeeps back into the game, but the Raiders kept pace with a three-point showcase from senior center Jaden Hayes. Senior guard Joe LaGrange found Hayes behind the arc on back-to-back possessions, then Montgomery fed the big man once again for his third triple of the night.
“It’s something I’ve been developing over the past couple of years,” Hayes said. “I just gained confidence in it. I know my team trusts me, so I’m not afraid to pull up and shoot it.”
Both teams went shot for shot in the second, but the Raiders were able to deliver a seven-point flurry in the third quarter to tighten their grip on the game. Montgomery got it started by taking his man off the dribble and finishing inside, and LaGrange once again found Hayes outside for another three-pointer. The Jeeps kept playing hard and doing what they could, but they could not get their shots to fall consistently, as they were outscored by the Raiders 13-6 and found themselves looking at a 20-point disadvantage to end the third quarter.
Despite their struggles, the boys in blue weren’t content with tucking tail and packing it in for the game, as evidenced by their 6-2 run to start the fourth quarter. Bauer asserted himself in the offense and scored 10 points in the fourth, as senior guard Logan Dodd and sophomore forward Lane Knies hit a pair of threes that didn’t allow the Raiders much room to rest. The Jeeps manufactured a 9-2 run, as they worked to chip away at their deficit. But the Raiders’ knack for getting a basket to cool off the hot streaks kept Northeast Dubois from closing in. LaGrange had seven points down the stretch to ward off the Jeeps, and the Raiders were able to claim their fifth win in a row.
Montgomery had 17 points and nine rebounds, Hayes had 16 (four three-pointers), and LaGrange finished with 14 and four assists. Bauer finished with 14 points for the Jeeps.
“I thought we played really well,” LaGrange said. “We didn’t expect them to try and hold the ball, but I feel like we did a good job of adjusting to their game plan. I feel like we’re getting better every game.”
Northeast Dubois coach Terry Friedman would have loved to have that first quarter back where the Jeeps were outscored 13-0, but he commended his boys for keeping the fight up despite the hill they had to climb. The loss puts the Jeeps on a four-game skid, but the team isn’t ready to fold on its season.
“In the second half we competed better,” he said. “We needed to knock down more shots. This game is about putting the ball in the basket. But we’re going to move on from this one, learn from it and get better. Our kids are not quitting. They’re still fighting. We are still looking for more rhythm in our offense. But as the season progresses, I think we’ll be fine.”
Conversely, the Raiders seem to be humming right along, as they have worked their way through their current win streak. Rohrer credits the boys with all buying into their system, especially on the defensive end, where they’ve held four of their last five opponents to under 40 points. But he also thinks the guys understanding their roles on the floor has led to an offensive progression as well. In the big scheme of things, Rohrer loves the fact that his team has settled in to the point where they are playing loose but focused basketball on the court, and thinks they can only ascend as the team moves forward.
“We’re on a nice roll and feeling good about ourselves,” he said. “As a group, we’re getting so much better every single day and game. Hopefully we can continue that.”
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