Cougars not underestimating Northeast Dubois


Going into its 2017-18 season, Trinity Lutheran’s girls basketball team set a goal: win five times at West Washington High School.

Thus far into the campaign, the Cougars have a perfect 3-0 on the Senators’ floor.

This weekend, the Cougars aim for the perfect sweep after winning the Sectional 62 title.

The Class A No. 9 Cougars (21-5) will face No. 13 Northeast Dubois (17-7) in Campbellsburg on Saturday in the semifinals of the West Washington Regional.

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The Jeeps enter the regional on a three-game winning streak, like the Cougars, including a 35-30 sectional championship victory against Wood Memorial — last year’s Class A state champs — this past Saturday.

The Jeeps have seen their ups-and-downs this season. They lost their first four games of the season before stringing together nine straight wins from Nov. 14 through Dec. 15.

Since Dec. 30, the Jeeps have a record of 8-2.

The Jeeps play a slow-paced game, averaging 41.5 points per game while giving up 36.4 per contest.

Cougars coach Mike Lang said that dictating the pace of the game will be important.

“I asked a lot of people, and they say we need to slow things down,” Lang said. “(I tell them) you tell me how to slow down (guards) Jodi (Goecker) and Savannah (Harweger). You can’t. They know one speed. We’re going to feed off that. We’re going to pressure the wings and guards and hope that their lack of ball-handling ability will cough it up. We’ve said all year long that we want our defense to create offense. Once we get down on offense, I want to be efficient on our possessions.”

Like Trinity has most of the season, the Cougars plan on using defensive pressure to wear down the Jeeps.

“I don’t think anyone has been able to put the kind of defensive pressure on (the Jeeps) like we can to speed them up,” Lang said. “We have a lot of different eyes on some film. We’re getting a lot of different advice from different people.”

While the Jeeps don’t put up big points, they run an efficient offense.

“They run their offense really well,” Lang said. “They’re very patient and don’t score a lot of points. Down there, I think a lot of teams plays the same kind of deliberate-style of basketball. It’s not very fast. It’s more of a grind-it-out type of game.”

The Cougars are averaging 52.7 offensive points per game this season and 39.2 defensively.

Through two postseason games, the Cougars have won by margins of 50-33 and 55-34.

In practices this week, Trinity’s girls have done some joint practices with the junior varsity boys’ team. The JV team has run the Jeeps’ offensive scheme, so the Cougars can better prepare.

“Practices have been going good,” Goecker said. “We’re trying to keep our legs fresh for Saturday. We’ve been working our defense, free throws and scouting.”

In the postseason, Abby Hackman had led the Cougars offensively with 38 total points and Harweger has scored 24.

Hackman said the team is putting in solid work leading up to the regional.

“In regional games, I think we just need to make sure we all stay focused and calm,” she said. “We’re making sure we are all on the same page. We don’t want to stop. We want to keep going and play next week. I think everyone is working really hard. I think we all really want it.”

Two big parts of the Cougars’ success this season have been dominance on the boards and minimizing turnovers.

The Cougars beat West Washington 39-25 in rebounds in the sectional final, and 19-24 with turnovers. In the semis against Edinburgh, they also dominated the rebound (30-22) and turnover (19-13) margins.

Hackman, 5-foot-11, has 251 rebounds this season while freshman Sydney Jaynes, 6-foot-1, has pulled down 194.

Despite previously playing in the same sectional, the last time the two programs met was in regional play during the 2012-13 season. The Jeeps won that game 44-30 before losing to Rivet in the regional final.

Should Trinity win, they face the winner of No. 2 Vincennes Rivet (23-2) and No. 6 South Central (19-5) at 8 p.m. for the regional championship.

The Jeeps lost to Rivet 64-22 on Jan. 25.

Lang said that he expects the team to keep up the intensity should they advance to the nightcap.

“I think, once you get to that point, the adrenaline and enthusiasm of the crowd is going to carry you through it,” Lang said. “When we go to the Toby Yoho Classic (holiday tournament), we go there purposefully to play two games in one day. We want to be prepared for a situation like this. Rivet or South Central, either one, are very good teams. They both play in holiday tournaments as well that forces them to play two games in one day.

While Lang said that he’s had his assistants look at film on Rivet and South Central, he and the girls are just focusing on the Jeeps in practices.

“Our philosophy all year has been to worry about us and not the other team,” Lang said.

“You have to win the first one to get to the second one. All our focuses have been on Northeast Dubois. I don’t want to give them any disrespect, or no credit. Any time you are at this point, you’re facing a good team. The most important game is the one that’s next.”

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What: Class A West Washington Regional

Who: Trinity Lutheran’s girls basketball team

When: Saturday

Times: semifinals at noon (vs. Northeast Dubois), championship at 8 p.m.

Admission: $7 per session; $10 both sessions.


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