TERRE HAUTE —
Don’t poke the bear.
Good advice at the carnival, and possibly in high school basketball, as West Vigo learned Friday night against Terre Haute South.
The visiting Braves had led since the first of two Preston Tofaute 3-pointers broke a 4-4 tie, but the game was in striking distance throughout the first half. West Vigo started shakily in the third quarter, and then Kyle Stewart was whistled for an intentional foul stopping a Jeffrey Turner breakaway.
The score was 45-31 at that point, Turner hit his two free throws, and by the end of the third quarter the game was out of reach, the visitors closing the period with a 12-0 run for a 68-42 advantage. The final score, as the Vikings cleared their bench, was 86-51.
“At the time, I was really upset [about the foul],” said Turner, who helped spark that run and who finished with 30 points and six assists. “But I talked to coach [Scott Ridge] and he said beating them fair and square would be a lot better than hitting him back.”
“When [the Vikings] came at [Turner] with the hard foul from behind, it got everybody going,” Ridge agreed afterward, then added a more cogent point.
“If [the Braves] play like that after something happens, they should play like that all the time.”
Although the Vikings never led in the game, they were never out of it in the first half thanks to some strong offensive moves by Stewart and Cade Lindsey from the backcourt. They trailed 41-29 at intermission, however, and coach Joe Boehler knew he had a problem.
“I thought we played too fast,” he said afterward, “definitely the pace [the Braves] wanted the game at. I knew [at halftime] when they had scored 41 points, we were in trouble.”
South’s third-quarter intensity was felt most on the defensive end. South had 11 steals in that period, 20 for the game, and also handed out 20 assists.
Turner was South’s only double-figure scorer, but five other Braves had at least eight points. Shane Stanley wasn’t one of those five, but he had four steals and so did Kevaris Gregory and Conner Shipley. Stewart had 18 points and Lindsey 12 for West Vigo.
The way his team got fired up in his behalf was impressive to Turner, he said after the game.
“That makes me feel good,” he said. “They really stepped up to the plate and did it … the second half was just great. We rebounded really well and we played the passing lanes really well.”
“I thought [the Vikings] outplayed us in the first half,” Ridge said afterward.
In addition to the pickup in intensity, the Braves got good use of their 1-3-1 zone trap in the third quarter. “We like to turn that on in the second half,” Ridge explained. “As [the opponents] get tired, we turn on big pressure.”
“We could never make two or three good plays in a row in the first half, or we might even have been ahead,” Boehler said. “We got sped up, we made a lot of bad decisions with the basketball … in the second half we starting throwing the ball all over the place.”
Both teams have games today, the Vikings at home for a Western Indiana Conference quadrupleheader with Brown County (girls JV at 1 p.m., followed by girls varsity, boys JV and a 6 p.m. varsity tipoff) and South at Evansville Reitz.
“We’ve got a lot of little mistakes to clear up to get to where we want to be,” said Ridge.
“We didn’t help ourselves at all,” Boehler noted. “We don’t quite understand yet how to give ourselves a chance to win.”