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Lions Growl Down Cougars
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  Loogootee’s boys’ basketball team has come a long, long way in one year’s time.  Just 370 days ago, the Lions were mauled by a ferocious band of Cougars inside Jack Butcher Arena 48-19.  The win for ND’s varsity was the first against their Martin County nemesis since 1992.  The 29 point beat-down was nothing but a distant memory at the Cougar Den Friday night, however, as the Lions climbed out of a deep hole, survived a second-half see-saw ride, and enjoyed the spoils of an incredible, nearly heart-stopping 44-43 finish.  Perhaps the lingering nightmares of the thorough dismantling suffered at the paws of the Cougars last time out served as inspiration enough for Loogootee’s senior-laden roster.  No doubt point guard Tyler Bratton felt that way as he scorched the nets for a career night with 14, including four three-point daggers, practically equaling the offense from last year’s anemic team performance.
   After a turnover-plagued effort by the Lion reserve team, the varsity took the floor and seemingly tried to duplicate the preliminary.  Save for an early John Baugh bucket, the visitors got nothing accomplished offensively against ND’s stingy match-up zone.  Tyler Trambaugh did muster in a three-pointer to trim the score to 10-5 with 37 seconds remaining in the first stanza.  A crucial Lion turnover with 3.3 on an out-of-bounds play led to a trey just before the buzzer and thus an eight-point deficit.  The second quarter was ugly basketball at its finest – North Daviess put up another half-dozen to front 19-5 before a Tyler Bratton 3 with 1:23 to play cut the lead to eleven.  Bratton then hit a fall-away bomb ahead of the halftime horn to send his teammates into the locker room down 19-11.
   John Baugh got a lay-up out of the gate to cut the host’s lead to six, ND responded with a hoop, and then Baugh scored again to make it 21-15.  North Daviess continued to miss free throws, and when Bratton canned his third triple, the score was 21-18.  Do-everything senior Thomas Nugent responded with his own three-ball, but Tyler Trambaugh calmly sank a 3 from in front of the Lion bench to cut the lead back to 24-21.  Baugh was 1-2 at the line as Loogootee got within 24-22.  Two free throws by the Cougars upped the lead to four, but Patrick Bowling got a steal and a pull-up jumper to trim the lead back to one possession.  Trambaugh dropped a baseline three to give his squadron their first lead of the night at 27-26.  Nelson Graber responded with a lay-in to put the home team back in front.  Tyler Bratton’s steal and breakaway tipped the scoreboard in the Lions favor.  At 1:16 of the third frame, North Daviess reached the bonus situation and promptly cashed in two charity tosses for a 30-29 lead.  Bowling quickly responded with two from the line as Loogootee re-claimed the advantage 31-30.  Logan Wagler wrapped his way in for a bucket, Bratton nailed another bomb, but Wagler struck back with five seconds on the clock to give his cats a 35-34 edge after three stanzas.
   Kendall Wittmer knocked down a jumper in the lane to start the frenetic last eight minutes, but Ben Hogan scrapped for a loose ball and made the ensuing lay-up.  Wittmer missed a bonus attempt, and Hogan’s sweet dish underneath for Brett Mattingly’s only field goal on the evening gave the Lions the lead 38-37.  Nugent left his freebie short at the 5:40 mark, and thenBaugh went to the line at 4:59 and made 1-2 for a two-point grip.  Trambaugh missed a one-and-bonus with just under four minutes, and Wittmer’s basket at 3:32 tied the score at 39’s.  Nugent snuck inside to hit the hoop, and Mattingly’s attempt at the line during the next possession caromed hard off the back of the rim.  A critical miss by Nugent led to Ben Hogan being fouled and placed in the double bonus situation; he got one of two to go down at 1:39.  A steal by Bratton and subsequent 1-2 performance by Baugh at the stripe knotted the board at 41 with :45.4 showing on the play clock.
   North Daviess held for one shot but got two opportunities as an offensive putback with less than four seconds by Wagler was, at the time in my estimation as I detailed the game live, the difference.  The refs conferred on how much time to put up on the board as Coach Mike Wagoner used a time-out to set up a flair for the dramatic.  The drama built itself some more when ND’s coach, Brent Dalrymple, also used a t.o. to go over last second defensive instructions.  Bowling got the feed, raced up the floor, and put up a nothing but net jumper that seemingly tied the game at 43 as Lion fans went berserk in celebration.  The seventeen-footer was mistakenly ruled a three-pointer by the officiating crew, and Loogootee had pulled out the miraculous.
   The extra-curricular activity between the fans was curtailed, but North Daviess fans were very displeased and angry at the flurry of events that transpired in the final few seconds of an instant high school basketball classic.  The Lions drained seven legitimate triples, and Bowling’s 3 to cap the scoring allowed him to finish with seven.  Tyler Trambaugh had the other three treys to finish with nine, the same number John Baugh recorded.  Hogan’s three and Mattingly’s field goal complimented Bratton’s game-high 14.  Nugent also picked up 14, Wittmer 10, and Wagler seven for the disappointed 6-5 Coug’s.  The win propelled Loogootee to 8-2, the program’s best start since the state-final bound 2005 team began 11-2.  
   As previously mentioned, the Loogootee reserves did not respond nearly as well in losing 26-17.  At halftime, the Lions were down 12-7 and had committed 15 turnovers.  The ball-handling and passing against the full-court zone of ND caused just as many problems in the final twelve minutes of play in some cases causing Lion participants to rack up more turnovers on their individual stat sheet than points.  Bryant Ackerman put in a team-high seven, Jordan Arvin four, Stephen Bradley three, Travis Sergent two, and Tyler Jacobs hit one free throw.
-Photo by Larry Hembree
Senior Tyler Trambaugh of the Lions fires a three over the top of the defender at Friday night’s game. In a buzzer beater the Lions defeated the Cougers 44-43.
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