Jordan Wildman manufactured 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals, while Silas Bauer posted an impressive 12 point, 8 rebound effort to lead the Class 1A, #8 ranked Lions past Wood Memorial, 71-52. On a night that took on a romantic flavor, Loogootee honored the 50th Anniversary of its 1970 State Finalist team. Legendary names like Brian Canada, Jim Trout, Rex Sager, Tony Smith and other key contributors to the ’70 squad were celebrated at JBA prior to the game. The homecoming was capped off by the long and awaited return of coach Jack Butcher, who received a loud and extended, heartwarming ovation. It would be all the current version of the Lions would need as they came out pressing from the tip and never let up on their way to a 19-6 first quarter lead that eventually ballooned to twenty as Loogootee took a 34-14 lead into the locker room at halftime. Once again, Ryan Haywood got solid minutes from his bench as Nathaniel Hart (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Jalen Wildman (5 points) sparked the Lions during a second half in which the Trojans (0-3, 0-1 in BCC) never gave up. Landon Harder reached double figures for the first time this season as the senior netted 10 points to go with 3 rebounds. Peyton Bledsoe also continues to find his groove. The freshman put up 12 points, dished out 4 assists and pulled down 3 rebounds in just his fourth career game. Quietly, Luke Nonte continues to run the offense in impressive fashion as the 5-10 guard scored 2 points, while handing out 4 assists. Conner Hedrick and Isaac Eagle scored 2 points apiece to round out the scoring for LHS.
Wood Memorial, who joined the Blue Chip Conference in 2001, currently holds an 11-9 advantage in the all-time series over Loogootee. Despite winning 8 of the first 12 meetings, LHS had dropped 7 straight games to the Trojans before Haywood’s squad finally snapped the streak. Prior to Friday night’s victory, the Lions last win over WM came during the Mike Wagoner era when his team, led by then senior, Conner Wittmer defeated the Trojans 55-32.
Loogootee (4-0, 1-0 in BCC) will hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to Ferdinand, IN on Friday, December 13. In order for the Lions to remain unbeaten they will have to accomplish a feat that no LHS squad had been able to do since the 1995-’96 season, and that’s win at Forest Park. It is one of few blemishes on an otherwise historically impressive basketball resume at Loogootee High School. The 23-year road drought is most notably marked by the Lions woes at Woody Buechler Arena, a place LHS has never won since being built in the late 90’s. If Loogootee is to end its suffering, Haywood’s team will need to vanquish an 0-11 all-time at what has become known as the Forest Park Purgatory.