Jalen Wildman scored 12 points and Luke Nonte added 9 to lead Class 1A, #5 ranked Loogootee over Class 1A, #11 ranked West Washington on Saturday night. Wildman’s offensive rebound put-back with :02 seconds remaining allowed LHS to escape Campbellsburg with a victory, and the team’s second road win in 24 hours.
The Senators began the season 10-1, but came into Saturday’s game losers of two straight so Ryan Haywood’s team knew they could be in for a long night, especially playing in unfamiliar territory.
Loogootee would lead at all stops, but was never able to pull away from a determined West Washington squad. WW would score the first and last field goals of the opening period, but the Lions ran off nine straight points in between to grab a 9-4 lead after one. The Senators found their rhythm early in the second as they netted the quarter’s initial five points to tie the score at 9 apiece. LHS would regain control by outdueling West Washington 10-4 over the next 4:00 to go up 19-13, but in what would become a common theme for the night, the Senators fought back as they bagged the last four points of the second to end the half down 19-17.
WW continued its run in the opening stages of the third as Clayton Sullivan’s team hit from downtown to take a 20-19 lead. A Loogootee foul sent its opposition to the line where they hit on both free-throws to make it 22-19. It was all part of a 9-0 run that lasted for the better part of 6:00 going back to the the first half. Shortly thereafter, the Lions would score the next four points to retake a 23-22 lead, but the Senators quickly answered to go back ahead 24-23. LHS finally found its mojo around the 3:00 mark as they finished with six straight points to end the third frame with a 29-24 advantage.
Loogootee kept their run going to start the fourth by adding 4 more points onto the scoreboard. Suddenly, the Lions found themselves pulling away as the 10-0 run put Haywood’s troops in control with a 33-24 lead in the early stages of the game’s final quarter. West Washington finally stopped the bleeding on a pair of FT’s to cut the game to seven, then a Parker Green three made it 33-29. LHS bounced right back with four of its own to go up 37-29, before another Green three-ball carved the deficit to five. A pair of made baskets sandwiched between one from its opposition put the Lions out in front 41-34. With just under 1:30 left to play and a seven point lead, Green’s earlier duplet of three’s seemed innocent enough. Apparently nobody made the 6’1″ senior guard aware of this as the lefty splashed home back-to-back 3’s on the Senators next two trips down the floor. Suddenly, Loogootee found themselves ahead by the narrowest of margins at 41-40. Luke Nonte would hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it a 2-point lead, but his second attempt went halfway down, before bounding out. West Washington (10-4, 2-2 in PLC) took full advantage of an LHS foul on their next possession as they hit both FT’s to tie the game at 42-42. The Lions then raced down the floor and called timeout with 6.5 seconds left in regulation for Haywood to draw up one last play. Jalen Wildman inbounded the ball to Nathaniel Hart in the corner who then fed Silas Bauer underneath, but his turnaround jumper in the post caromed off the rim. All the while, Jalen Wildman was two steps ahead of every Senator on the floor as the junior followed up his inbound pass by sprinting to the opposite side of the basket where he leapt up for the rebound and banked in the game-winning shot off the glass in mid-air. The heroic finish allowed Loogootee (14-3, 5-0 in BCC) to pick up their 6th straight victory, three of which have come against ranked opponents.
Saturday’s game marked just the 5th time in school history that LHS and West Washington have faced off against each other, four of which have come since the 2014-15 season. Loogootee, who holds a 4-1 lead in the overall series, first met the Senators in 1990 when the two teams squared off in the opening round of the Washington Regional. The Lions won that morning 69-53 behind a game-high 28 points from Jeff Doyle and 16 courtesy of Chad Wade. LHS returned to the Hatchet House later that night to defeat the North Harrison Cougars 49-44 to advance the Sweet 16.
* Jalen Wildman (12 pts, 3 rebs)
* Luke Nonte (9 pts)
* Silas Bauer (8 pts, 7 rebs, 3 blks)
* Nathaniel Hart (7 pts, 7 rebs)
* Jordan Wildman (4 pts)
* Peyton Bledsoe (3 pts, 6 rebs)
* Landon Harder (1 pt)
LHS gladly returns to the friendly confines of Jack Butcher Arena on Thursday, February 6th when they take on the Orleans Bulldogs. Tom Bradley’s team enters the contest with a 7-9 record. It’s most recent result was a 45-36 home loss at the hands of North Daviess.