Tigers riding momentum into battle against top-ranked Vikings


The Crothersville boys basketball team is peaking at the right time.

The Tigers defeated Henryville and Austin in their final two regular-season games, then topped Edinburgh and West Washington last week to win the Edinburgh Sectional, the first boys sectional title in school history.

Crothersville (14-10) will face Class A top-ranked Barr-Reeve (25-1) at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Loogootee Regional, and Northeast Dubois (16-10) will play Christian Academy (18-7) in the second game.

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Because of the coronavirus, the IHSAA announced Thursday only a limited number of people from each participating school — 75 — will be able to attend the regional.

“I think beating Austin gave them a big lift. I think beating Henryville the week before helped us out,” Tigers coach Greg Kilgore said. “We beat Henryville, then Austin, then Edinburgh in the sectional. I think it just carried over to each game where they gained a little more confidence.”

Kilgore believes the Tigers can compete with the Vikings.

“Loogootee beat Barr-Reeve by five (53-48), Loogootee beat West Washington by two (44-42) and we beat West Washington by six (57-51) the other night,” he said.

“It’s all about matchups, and it’s all about given nights for anybody,” he said. “You’ve got to have your kids convinced that they can play with anybody. And no matter who you’re playing, you’ve got to catch a few breaks to win a basketball game. You’re going to have to make a few outside shots. You’re going to have to try to get one of their key players in foul trouble in some way. There are a lot of intangibles in a basketball game that can make you or break you.”

The Vikings will have a height advantage over the Tigers with 6-foot-8 senior Keegan O’Neill, 6-3 Brycen Graber and 6-3 Tyson Knepp.

“O’Neill inside is pretty tough. Graber is really good on the perimeter, and he’s a good jumper. The (Jacob) Wagner kid can jump a little bit and is a pretty good player,” Kilgore said. “They are pretty solid. Everybody talks about O’Neill and Graber, but they’re pretty solid about one through eight.

“They’ll play some 2-3 zone and guard the volleyball line,” he said. “They really get after you, so we’re going to have to take care of the ball. We’ll have to make crisp passes. We’re going to have to contain O’Neill inside. We’ll have to block out and rebound and limit their second shots.”

It will be key for the Tigers to come out and do those things early in the game, Kilgore said.

“If we can get off to a good start and stay in the game the first six or eight minutes, I think we’ll be fine,” he said.

Quinten Keasler, a junior post player, was excited about helping the Tigers win the sectional, and he is looking forward to playing in the regional.

“It was pure joy,” he said. “The feeling of being the first team to do that in 105 years, I don’t think anything can come close to that.”

Keasler said he looks forward to battling O’Neill.

“I’ve got to be tough, be physical and box him out,” he said.

Keasler said he feels like beating Austin on senior night was the game that gave the Tigers confidence that they could win the sectional.

“In the Austin game, we all played well. That gave me confidence that we’ve got the sectional,” he said.

“I feel like Quinten has progressed each of those games,” Kilgore added. “Against O’Neill, we’ve just got to wall up and block out.”

Josh Thomas leads the Tigers in scoring at 13.9 points per game, and Cable Spall is next at 13.6 per game.

The Tigers are going to Loogootee today to practice and eat dinner together and stay over.

“I think that will help the kids to get out and have an experience like they haven’t had before and get away from everything for a 14- or 16-hour period,” Kilgore said.

Loogootee has a sunken gym like Edinburgh and Brownstown Central.

“We’ve played a few of them this year. I thought we shot the ball relatively well at Edinburgh,” Kilgore said. “We shot a better percentages of 3s in those two games than we did for the season. We’ve just got to come out and execute the game plan and let the chips fall where they may.”

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What: Class A boys basketball regional

When: Saturday

Where: Loogootee High School, 201 Brooks Ave., Loogootee

Who: Crothersville vs. Barr-Reeve at 10 a.m.; Northeast Dubois vs. Christian Academy at noon; championship at 7:30 p.m.


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