Boys Varsity Basketball · Lions grind out grandiose ‘WRV Homecoming,’ before clawing past Wolverines

52 Loogootee High School
42 White River Valley High School
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Loogootee High School vs White River Valley High School
52 42
1 11   11
2 9   14
3 19   11
4 13   6

Jalen Wildman scored a season-high 11 points and Silas Bauer posted his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points & 10 rebounds to lead the Class 1A, #5 ranked Lions past White River Valley 52-42 on a night that began with balloons and ended with duct tape.

Despite WRV’s loss in J.V. action to Loogootee, disappointment quickly morphed into expectancy for the throng of Wolverine fans who sat on the edge of their seats for what turned out to be 10 minutes of tension-filled anticipation as they awaited the school’s ‘Homecoming’ court to emerge from the gym tunnel. For LHS fans, the between-game merriment will not be long-forgotten as the celebration showcased not just your typical king and queen coronation, but a free-of-charge sectional championship-like jubilee on the floor for fans afterwards. Meanwhile, coach Haywood along with his coaching staff and players returned to its respective locker room where they patiently awaited their pregame warm-up as White River Valley’s vivacious spectacle continued on. Friday night’s pageantry was filled with balloon displays, photo ops, meet and greets and the opportunity for old friends to reconnect in what can only be likened to the length of a Super Bowl halftime.

Regardless, White River Valley looked like the team to beat early on as the Lions first half shooting was colder than the WRV gym itself, which paralleled to that of an icebox. Loogootee would strike first, but the lead went back and forth before the opening stanza ended in an 11-11 stalemate. Both teams traded baskets to begin the second, but the Wolverines would go on a 12-3 run, before Peyton Bledsoe’s corner three cut the deficit to 23-17. The half would later end with White River Valley holding an unexpected 25-20 lead.

The Wolverines began the second half with a free-throw to go up 26-20, but LHS responded with six straight to tie the game at 26-26. It looked as if the Lions were taking command, but the protective under WRV’s basket unfastened, prompting another delay. However, ten minutes and a roll of duct tape later, the game resumed. To WRV’s credit, head coach James Floyd and his team found a way to keep pressure on Loogootee as they scored the next four points to move ahead 30-26. LHS would net the next four to tie it at 30-30, then both teams traded the following four baskets with the last giving the Lions a 35-34 lead, its first since they were up 11-8 late in the first. Heading into the final quarter Loogootee held a 39-36 lead, before White River Valley scored to make it a one-point game at 39-38. LHS would hit 1 of 2 from the free-throw line to go up two, however White River Valley later capitalized on both of its FT attempts to tie the score at 40-40 halfway through the fourth. With Loogootee on top by one after a made free toss, the Wolverines missed on the other end. This prompted Ryan Haywood to spread the floor and rely on the Lions delay offense. His call would turn out to pay major dividends. The WRV defense chased Haywood’s squad around the floor as LHS registered a pair of easy layups to put distance between themselves and their opponent. Trailing 45-40 and unable to score, White River Valley (7-9, 2-2 in SWIAC) was forced to foul late in the contest. This resulted in Luke Nonte burying the front and back end of a one-and-one to further put Loogootee (13-3, 5-0 in BCC) ahead 47-40. It was all part of a 12-2 run in the game’s final 3:30 to give LHS the 52-42 win.

Since 1990, when the series first commenced, Loogootee holds a 20-11 advantage over WRV in head-to-head play. Friday’s victory also marked the 8th straight time the Lions have clawed past the Wolverines.

Lion Leaders:
* Jalen Wildman (11 pts, 4 rebs)
* Silas Bauer (10 pts, 10 rebs)
* Peyton Bledsoe (9 pts)
* Jordan Wildman (8 pts, 5 rebs)
* Nathaniel Hart (6 pts, 3 rebs)
* Luke Nonte (6 pts, 3 asts)
* Landon Harder (2 pts, 4 rebs)