Knox County's Blue Chip Conference teams have seemingly taken turns each week with which one has the busiest schedule. This week, South Knox gets that honor.
All three teams will also have to play away from home this weekend. The Spartans have three games in the next six days, visiting Blue Chip foe Northeast Dubois today and Bedford North Lawrence Saturday, both with 6 p.m. junior varsity starts, and Class 3A No. 4 Evansville Bosse Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
It's a double weekend for Rivet too as the Patriots travel to Class A No. 4 Loogootee at 7:30 p.m. for a varsity-only Blue Chip game today and go to Dugger at 6 p.m. Saturday, also varsity only. North Knox has just one game this weekend, at Washington at 6:30 p.m. today.
The Spartans (4-3, 2-0 Blue Chip) are coming off a disappointing 1-2 stay in the Old National Bank Classic last week, which included a 51-34 loss to Shoals in the fifth-place game.
The Shoals defeat came on the end of six games in 14 days for the Spartans. Coach David Burkett said his players, and even himself, were fatigued after that stretch.
"We have to get our energy back. We've limited practice to 1 1/2 hours just to get our legs back under us," Burkett said. "I know we have to play better defense than we did last Saturday. We have to make shots and layups too. That Shoals game was as bad a game since Bloomfield two years ago. We didn't watch the film of it, and we're not going to until we play them again."
Northeast Dubois is the only one of the three games that Burkett has his mind on.
"It's a conference game, one we need to get to get back on track and confidence wise," he said. "It's not going to be easy playing them there. They're going to play extremely hard. Heck they beat Shoals by 20, a team that just popped us in the mouth," Burkett said. "It's a game we need to get up early. Shoals was a game where they got a lead and just held it."
South Knox goes with its usual starting lineup, 5-10 senior Garrett Holscher (13.9 points per game), 6-1 junior Brennon Robinson (10.6), 6-1 sophomore Dylan Maeder (5.7), 6-2 junior Cody Dawson (5.3) and 6-0 junior Tristian Wirth (5.0).
Bedford North Lawrence (3-4), coached by former Lincoln leader Jeff Hein, and Bosse (4-0) are two of the eight teams on the schedule that play in Class 4A or 3A.
"It always drove me as a player, playing bigger schools. Peoples' persona is that when they see a jersey from a bigger school, it automatically made them better than you, and that's not the case," Burkett said. "They are guys just like everybody else. If our players have confidence in themselves, execute and compete, then we can play with anybody.
"This schedule is going to be like this the whole month of January and February. It's not getting easier," he said. "It's going to force us to play at a consistent level to be in these games."
The Stars play at Evansville Reitz today and have lost their last two, including a 74-51 defeat to 3A No. 3 Silver Creek last Saturday. The Bulldogs are at Evansville Central today. They have four double-figure scorers, led by 6-3 junior Julian Norris (19.3).
The Patriots (2-4, 1-2 Blue Chip) are coming off consecutive wins, albeit three weeks apart, but it will be difficult to extend that winning streak against Loogootee (8-2, 0-0). Still, Rivet is coming off an impressive 51-25 win over Cannelton on Saturday, in which the game was tied at halftime.
“The boys played the best game of their lives in that second half, and it's not just because we won. Offensively we took care of the basketball, and defensively they're understanding more,” Rivet coach Mark Bezy said. “We were firing on all cylinders. That was a great feeling after taking three weeks off, and hopefully we can take that momentum into Loogootee.”
Bezy plans to use the same starting lineup of 6-3 senior Peyton Catt (11.8 points per game), 5-10 senior Charlie Niehaus (10.0), 5-10 senior Sam Hinkle (7.7), 6-2 senior Drake Dunn (2.2), and 5-7 freshman Isaac Kotter (2.0). The Lions are led by a trio of double-figure scorers, 6-6 senior Silas Bauer (15.3), 6-4 sophomore Peyton Bledsoe (14.3), and 6-0 senior Jordan Wildman (11.3).
“They're disciplined, and I like their guard play,” Bezy said. “Their coach has Silas playing inside, where he belongs, and the Bledsoe kid is tough. They just don't drop off, and they have tremendous shooters. They share the ball, and it's a different guy each night. It's going to take a perfect game for us to make it a game, because they could shoot us out of the gym in a hurry.
“I want to see us compete, and I want to see our guards match up with theirs. We need to build off that second half at Cannelton. Win, lose, or draw, we want to get better every game. I want to see us compete from the tip until the final buzzer like we're capable.”
Bezy admitted to not knowing yet a lot about Dugger (0-1), as the Bulldogs just played their first game Wednesday and the conference opponent takes priority this weekend. The Patriots handled the Bulldogs, 60-31, at Holscher Gym last year, but Bezy called this one “a 50-50 game.”
“It's a back-to-back for us, so it doesn't matter who we're playing. It's a lot like Cannelton, and I know they're athletic,” Bezy said. “Their coach is starting to get that program going, and we've never played great up there. It's one we have circled, and we feel like we're the better team, but right now I'm more worried about Loogootee.”
North Knox (6-7) lost to 3A No. 8 Sullivan on Tuesday, 68-59, but it was a valiant effort by the Warriors after falling behind 23-6 in the second quarter.
“After the first 10 minutes, we were very good and outscored them by eight the rest of the way,” North Knox coach Daniel Crabtree said. “But you can't get down like that against a good team. We scored in a variety of ways and had solid contributions from everyone. Getting out in transition helped us in the middle two quarters.”
The Warriors start 6-0 junior Holtman Doades (15.2), 6-0 senior Reece Hammelman (8.3), 6-0 senior Isaiah Collins (7.2), 6-5 junior Ian Kixmiller (5.8) and 6-0 junior Rhett Sheren (5.1). Crabtree was pleased with his team's offensive balance, noting that six players have hit double figures at least once.
The Hatchets (0-5) are winless, but they've played four ranked opponents and three of those losses were within six points. They're paced by 6-5 senior Trey Reed, an Indiana State baseball commit.
“Washington is fundamental, and they shoot well from 3. You wouldn't expect anything less from a Gene Miiller team,” Crabtree said. “(Reed's) size and athleticism will be tough to contain, and it'll take a team effort to slow him down. Zach Gray (a 6-1 senior) is a great outside shooter who can light it up.
“We're going to have to get off to a much better start and be solid on the defensive end. We need to limit their second-chance points and transition opportunities and make them earn everything.”
Blue Chip standings
Last Friday's results
South Knox 53, Rushville 44
Shoals 44, Rock Creek Academy 41
Loogootee 42, North Daviess 40
Last Saturday's results
Rivet 51, Cannelton 25
Shoals 51, South Knox 34
Barr-Reeve 72, Washington 45
Loogootee 51, Brownstown 44
Sullivan 68, North Knox 59
Barr-Reeve 53, Orleans 42
Shoals 91, Dugger 44
Rivet at Loogootee
North Knox at Washington
South Knox at Northeast Dubois
Bloomington Lighthouse at Shoals
Cannelton at Wood Memorial
Clay City at Washington Catholic
Evansville Mater Dei at Barr-Reeve
Rivet at Dugger
South Knox at Bedford North Lawrence
Loogootee at Wood Memorial
Northeast Dubois at Southridge
Shoals at Washington Catholic
Wood Memorial at Evansville Memorial
South Knox at Evansville Bosse