LOOGOOTEE, IND – Jack Butcher Gymnasium, home of IHSAA 1A Sectional 63, could be considered the mecca of Southern Indiana basketball. Sectional 63, the best sectional in the state. The fans, well, they came by the many, so they can be the best too.
There will always be the argument, that Class basketball killed Indiana basketball, an argument that falls mute after witnessing the colossus crowd Friday night. You will not see pictures of empty stands at Jack Butcher, regardless of who’s playing there.
The drive from Bedford to Loogootee has similar qualities to the teams in Sectional 63. Quick turns, hard climbs, and stunning shots. Some of the best 1A Indiana Basketball teams call these hills home, and they’re tough like the terrain they’re raised on.
The action began Tuesday night, when Orleans pulled out a gritty win over the host, Loogootee Lions (49-45). I assume the Lions fans were caught off guard by the tenacity of the Bulldogs, but a lot of us knew that the Bulldogs had a heck of a undercut. The Dawgs had just came off of a close loss to 3A powerhouse Brownstown Central, and carried that momentum into the Sectionals.
Ian Hall, of Orleans, had a career night, scoring 29 points and 5 rebounds to help his team overcome an early deficit and win in overtime. Hall scored the bucket at the closing marks to send the game to overtime. That flame eventually died out when Orleans went up against Hagen Knepp and the Vikings, but it was an exciting finish on the first night.
The other game of the first night had North Daviess completely dismantling the Washington Catholic program, 71-19.
Night 2 saw a pair of slower games between North Daviess vs Shoals and Orleans vs Barr-Reeve. Shoals kept the score close with North Daviess, but I think that’s more because the Cougars let on the breaks after Shoals scored just 6 points in the first half. Shoals had trouble getting any shot attempts up early with tough pressure from North Daviess defense.
Orleans had similar shooting woes in their game against Barr-Reeve, losing 48-34 to the defending 1A Indiana State Basketball champs. Its hard to carry a spark game to game when you come up against a force that just can’t seem to miss. That force is Hagen Knepp, who doesn’t have many peers when it comes to jump shots. Knepp is probably 6’4”, jumps the ball and posts up, but excels at guard as well. You add him, and a well-coached team, and they’re going to beat anyone in their class.
The young Orleans team understood that this year’s Sectional was going to be hard, and they have their eyes set on the next two years, where they’ll go from the underdogs to Sectional Favorites with a lot of strong options at their disposal. They’ve put all teams on notice this year. The Vikings continue on for their quest of Repeat.
Tonight is Sectional Championship night and after I conclude writing this article, I will be heading back down to Loogootee to watch the final game of Sectional 63. Buggy Bowl 2! Can the North Daviess Cougars squad get a redemption from their “Throwing the Towel” antics, or will Barr-Reeve remind them who’s the Champ? I think its going to be down to the wire, but I’ll keep my prediction myself this time. Who do you think will win? Vote at the poll below, and we’ll see you tonight in Loogootee!