Through all the fanfare and bright lights the Cougars and Jaylen Mullen came out ready to play. Jaylen was absolutely on fire in the first 5 minutes pouring in two three’s and a sweet little mid-range jumper. Lafayette would keep pace with the Cougars however as North Daviess only led by one and the end of the first.
Lafayette came out in the second and used their size to their advantage and were initially successful, but the Cougars turned up the pressure. North Daviess began to attack the paint and were able to finish or draw fouls on Lafayette. After a bit of a rocky start for Cougars center Brendan Stickles, he was able to brush off the pressure and finish at the rim. His free throw shooting however was something to be lacking. He got to the line 4 times but only made 2 of them. Coach Dalyrmple took Mullen off the ball and ran some pretty sets where he was able to finish or dish off to the open man. North Daviess was able to extend their lead going into the half 23-17. Great second quarter adjustments offensively and defensively by the Cougars.
Lance Wilson started off the second half with a great layin. The Cougars defense was suffocating early in the second half and caused a couple early turnovers. The Knights tried to use their size to their advantage but the undersized Cougars were up for the challenge were able to extend their lead to ten forcing the Knights into an early 3rd quarter timeout. Both teams would go on a bit of a scoring drought in the middle of the third as the whistles began to blow. What a change from the first half as the referees seemingly found their whistles in the second half. The Knights were able to go on a run thanks to some great set plays getting them easy 3 point looks. The Cougars were able to hold on to the lead 30-24 going into the final period.
The Knights stepped up the pressure on defense and forced the Cougars into some early turnovers and were able to capitalize on the offensive end. This one was intense down the stretch. Brendan Stickles came up with some huge hustle plays but again was unable to convert the front end of a one and one with just over 4 minutes left. Going into the last TV timeout the Cougars barely held the lead 32-29. Lafayette came out of that timeout deploying a token press but then fell back into a man defense. The Cougars were intent on slowing the game down and looking for the best shot. Unfortunately as North Daviess was trying to take the air out of the ball the Knights upped their intensity on defense and turned over the Cougars. Jaylen Mullen, who had been quiet since the first quarter, knocked in two free throws with just over 2 minutes to go to bump the lead to 4. The Knights came right back and scored. Devin Collins missed the front end of a one and one with one and a half minutes left and Lafayette called timeout to set up a play. The Cougars still barely held on to the lead 34-32. Lafayette tied the game with just over a minute left. North Daviess held the ball for the last possession of regulation but were unable to get off a good shot as Mullen was hounded and put up a wildly contested mid range jumper that didn’t have a chance and we headed to Overtime!
The Cougars won the tip and Devin Collins sliced through the Knights defense for an easy layup. The Knights however came back and hit two free throws to tie it back up again. We would go back and forth, each team not being able to gain an advantage. Tied at 38-38 we head to double OT.
Whew, what a game. Why not have 4 extra minutes? North Daviess would again win the tip and slow down the pace. The Cougars would pounce early and take a 4 point lead early on. The Knights would fight back yet again and get the lead down to 1 with a minute and 15 to go. Again the teams would go back and forth until Jaylen Mullen and Logan Wilson would knock down crucial, clutch free throws. The Knights would get one last chance as Clark Barrett would get fouled on the final try from three and would have 3 free throws with no time left on the game clock. He would make the first and miss the second and Your North Daviess Cougars are State Champs!!
North Daviess and especially guard Jaylen Mullen were definitely not afraid of the big stage and came out and attacked early. They were not phased one bit by the size of the opposing team, attacking the ball with everything they had on defense. Coach Dalrymple had them prepared and made great in game adjustments. The Knights of Lafayette Central Catholic were not phased either and after a disastrous first half came roaring back. This was as intense and exciting a basketball game as I’ve ever seen and congrats to the Cougars on a well fought game and a tremendous season!