Recent heavy snows have kept boys basketball teams throughout the state out of the gym for much of the past two weeks, but assuming no more snow covers the area, games will still be played this weekend.
And it's a busy schedule for Knox County's Blue Chip Conference teams.
The most notable game in the area is Rivet (4-9) visiting South Knox (8-10) for a 6:30 p.m. varsity-only Blue Chip contest. That game has been moved several times, and most recently was pushed from today to Friday. Also on Friday, North Knox (9-10) hosts Class A No. 9 Bloomfield (11-6) at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, South Knox hosts Washington (5-10) at 6 p.m. North Knox visits Wood Memorial (5-10) for a league game at 6:30 p.m., and Rivet travels to Evansville Day (8-5) for a 6:30 p.m. varsity-only game.
RIVET AT SOUTH KNOX
With little to no practice time last week, Rivet failed to score in the first half Friday in a 59-16 loss to visiting Shoals, but the Patriots bounced back Saturday with a 40-33 win at Bloomington Lighthouse.
“We had good energy and were more disciplined (Saturday),” Rivet coach Mark Bezy said. “Our defense was in-tune, and we had good communication. It was nice to see Charlie (Niehaus) take over a game late. That's a good builder for him. It was definitely a game we needed after the Shoals loss.
“We may be able to practice (today), but one day of practice to prepare for a team like South Knox is not easy at all.”
The Spartans (4-2 Blue Chip) enter off a 51-32 loss at Class A No. 1 Barr-Reeve last Friday, but the Patriots (1-6) are a step down in competition after South Knox has played ranked opponents in four of its last five games and six of its last nine. The Spartans also have the advantage of only missing one practice this week.
Rivet starters are 6-3 senior Peyton Catt (11.9 points per game), 5-10 senior Niehaus (7.8) 5-10 senior Sam Hinkle (5.9), 5-7 freshman Isaac Kotter (3.7), and 6-2 senior Drake Dunn (2.8). South Knox starts 5-10 senior Garrett Holscher (12.4), 6-1 junior Brennon Robinson (7.8), 6-4 sophomore Dakota Candler (7.5), 6-0 junior Tristian Wirth (6.2), and 6-1 sophomore Dylan Maeder (5.2).
“They're a good basketball team. They're disciplined, and they control the tempo well,” Bezy said. “Garrett Holscher is probably the best point guard in the area. He does so many things well, he doesn't turn it over, and he's smart. We have to keep him under wraps. They have good guard play, and if Robinson sees a couple shots go in, we could be in trouble. We have to be patient, handle their pressure and work for a good shot.”
"We haven't seen a ton of zone this year, but we've worked on some 2-3 this week," said South Knox coach David Burkett, noting Rivet's preference to playing zone. "We have guys who can shoot it well, who can hit on the perimeter.
"We've worked a lot on execution, trying to put game-time pressure in practice. I like where we are. We're coming off a heck of a defensive game and rebounded well against Barr-Reeve."
On Saturday Rivet must contend with Evansville Day 5-10 sophomore Tyler Myers, who averages over 30 points per game and just recently reached 1,000 for his career. The Eagles, who have won a season-best four in a row and are likely the favorites in the Patriots' sectional, average 75.8 points per game, but give up 67.4.
“We go from a very controlled team in South Knox to a run-and-gun team that will see how many points they can score,” Bezy said. “Myers can get it off in a hurry, and he can shoot. They like to play at a fast pace, and it's going to be a tough weekend for us. But it's something that will get us ready for the postseason in a couple weeks.”
The Spartans finish the season with four games in eight days. The Hatchets on Saturday are the best of the upcoming opponents, with a road trip to Pike Central (2-15) on Tuesday and a home finale against Wood Memorial next Thursday, so it's a good opportunity for South Knox to build a winning streak heading into the postseason.
Washington is led by 6-5 senior Trey Reed, while the Chargers have enjoyed the emergence of 6-1 freshman Julian Gish.
"I love it. I'd like to win all four and build our guys' confidence going into the sectional. They deserve it for the tough schedule they've had all year long," Burkett said. "We're not going to change the way we play, like all of the sudden go into a 1-2-2 fullcourt trap against these teams. We have a certain way we play, and we're trying to perfect what we do."
The Warriors are coming off their toughest loss of the year. North Knox led Class A No. 4 North Daviess nearly the entire game last Friday before falling, 46-45, on a pair of late free throws.
“Our players and staff were all hurting pretty bad, but we found a way to have a productive practice (Saturday) and started the process of moving on,” Warriors coach Daniel Crabtree said. “The North Daviess game is a blueprint of how we need to play moving forward. We defended extremely well, were patient for the most part, and limited turnovers, even when North Daviess extended their pressure.
“I certainly can't fault our effort or buy-in. Our guys poured their hearts into that game.”
Friday is another chance for the Warriors to knock off a top Class A team. The Cardinals are a senior-less club, led by 6-1 junior Baylin Graf. But after a 5-0 start to the season, Bloomfield hasn't put more than two consecutive wins together, and it's currently lost three of four, including a 56-38 loss to North Daviess Feb. 4. Last season the Cardinals drilled the Warriors, 77-44.
North Knox starts 6-0 junior Holtman Doades (15.1), 6-0 senior Reece Hammelman (8.5), 6-0 senior Isaiah Collins (7.1), 6-5 junior Ian Kixmiller (4.7) and 6-0 junior Rhett Sheren (4.5). Brayden Thorne (5.9), a 6-0 senior, is the top reserve, and he's averaging 8.9 over the last seven games.
“Bloomfield is a team we struggled against last year, and they're tough again this year,” Crabtree said. “Baylin Graf is one of the best players in the area and can do it all. He's big, strong, athletic, and can shoot it. He's surrounded by other shooters, and they play an up-tempo style that will generally full-court man press and really pressure the half court.”
The Warriors (3-3 Blue Chip) have a chance to finish as high as fourth in the Blue Chip, but need to knock off the Trojans (3-2) in order to have a chance. Both teams have still yet to play Loogootee, though Wood Memorial may not get that game rescheduled, and the Trojans close with South Knox next week.
Wood Memorial is paced by 6-1 senior Griffin Parke.
“Wood Memorial has won four of five, and they're an active team that isn't afraid to make a game ugly,” Crabtree said. “They're led by Griffin Parke, who scored 13 of his 16 against us in the fourth quarter last year. He's a difficult assignment one-on-one in the open floor, and we have to defend if we want any breathing room.”
Crabtree added that his team's lack of practice is a "big concern," but added that many schools were in the same boat and that he's thankful his team has had the chance to play more games than most this season.
BLUE CHIP STANDINGS
Last Friday's results
Shoals 59, Rivet 16
Barr-Reeve 51, South Knox 32
North Daviess 46, North Knox 45
Loogootee 78, Evansville Christian 40
Perry Central 65, Northeast Dubois 47
Last Saturday's results
Rivet 40, Bloomington Lighthouse 33
Barr-Reeve 96, Eminence 47
Borden 69, Northeast Dubois 45
Wood Memorial 71, Washington Catholic 11
Rivet at South Knox
Bloomfield at North Knox
Barr-Reeve at Sullivan
Loogootee at Northeast Dubois
Orleans at Shoals
Washington Catholic at Dugger
Wood Memorial at Evansville Christian
Rivet at Evansville Day
North Knox at Wood Memorial
Washington at South Knox
Barr-Reeve at Rock Creek Academy
Christian Academy at Shoals
Medora at Washington Catholic