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Strong middle two quarters propel Viking boys past Panthers

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

MOUNT SUMMIT — Blue River Valley was seeking an equally strong second half to follow the first in Thursday’s second varsity boys basketball game at the 2019 Henry County Tournament in Shelton Gymnasium.

And they got it.

The Vikings moved to 7-3 on the season by beating county rival Knightstown 67-55 to advance and play Class 2A power Shenandoah in Saturday’s second game for the county championship.

Ahead 32-26 at intermission, Blue River stepped up at the defensive end in the third quarter, limiting the 6-4 Panthers to just six points in pulling ahead 45-32 after the period.

Then the hosts withstood a furious Knightstown rally down the stretch to win, and varsity Head Coach Brian Klein was very pleased with his team’s play over an improved Panther team.

“We didn’t play particularly well in the start of the fourth quarter, but a big scoring play by Jackson (Thornbugh) stopped the run, and allowed us to open up the lead gain,” said Coach Klein. “I am just so excited and ecstatic that we get to play Saturday night against an outstanding Shenandoah team.”

Early on, the Vikings took a 6-2 lead on their own hardwood, only to see the Knightstown record the game’s next eight points, prompting an early timeout. The Panthers led 14-12 at the first break.

The Vikings turned up the offense in the second quarter, recording 20 points, including 11 by junior Andrew Froedge alone. By the end of the night, Froedge would share game and team scoring honors with Jackson Thornburgh with 20 points.

A late trey by Thornburgh had moved the lead up to six points at halftime, and freshman post player Brevin Hallatt hit three two-point field goals in the third quarter, as the Vikings added 13 points to lead by double digits with only eight minutes to play.

In fact, the lead had been bigger at 17 points, 45-28, late in the third quarter.

“This week, we put in a 2-2-1 zone, and just mixed up our defenses in this game,” Coach Klein said of the team’s defensive success in the middle two quarters. ‘In the third, we stayed with the man defense, since we were having great success at the defensive end.”

Knightstown got back in the game by driving the ball, drawing fouls, and converting at the charity stripe. The Panthers hit four of six free throws in the third quarter to start the road back, then drained eight of a dozen in the fourth quarter to get as close as five points at 53-48.

An old-fashioned three-point play from Thornburgh stopped the KHS run, and moved the Vikings on the way to victory, stretching out the lead to a much more comfortable margin. Blue River connected on 14 of 19 charity tosses in the final eight minutes of play.

Offensively, in addition to the big scoring games from Froedge and Thornburgh, Hallatt had 13 points, with Cole Cross and Bryce Klein adding five apiece, and Jacob Madden four points with two first half buckets.

For Knightstown, senior Jose Olivo led with 13 points before fouling out. Chase Burton had 10 points, Aaron Reagan nine, and both Kyler Burchett and Treavor Cook each added eight points. James Lukens also fouled out in a very physical game.

The Panthers were whistled for 24 fouls in the game, 16 in the second half, as KHS fouled in an effort to stop the clock and cut into the lead. Blue River was charged with 20 fouls, 13 after halftime.

A key difference was the frigid Knightstown shooting in the third quarter, as the Panthers could hit just one two-point field goal in 13 attempts, and misfired on all three treys in that eight minutes of play.

Knightstown head varsity coach Dusty Magee was not pleased with his team’s performance in the game.

“Blue River is a skilled basketball team, and they played more physically then we did,” Magee said. “We really didn’t play well in the first three quarters, but did a little better in the fourth. If you don’t battle physically, and play like that for three quarters, you are not going to win the game.”

On New Year’s Eve, the Panthers fell to Greenfield-Central at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Knightstown returns to play in the Tri-Eastern Conference next week on the road with games at Centerville on Friday night and Northeastern Saturday in a girls/boys varsity hoops doubleheader.

Blue River Valley 67, Knightstown 55

KNIGHTSTOWN (55)

Olivo 5-8 2-2 13, Burchett 4-12 0-0 8, Cook 1-7 6-7 8, Reagan 4-10 0-1 9, Lukens 1-4 0-0 2, Burton 3-13 4-8 10, Campton 1-1 0-0 2, Porter 1-1 1-2 3, Fort 0-0 0-0 0, Craft 0-0 0-0 0, Schaetzle 0-1 0-0 0, Corbett 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 13-20 55.

BLUE RIVER (67)

Cross 1-8 3-4 5, Klein 2-4 1-6 5, Thornburgh 7-10 3-3 20, Froedge 5-15 8-9 20, Hallatt 5-11 3-4 13, Madden 2-3 0-4 4, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Guffey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-51 18-30 67.

Knightstown 14 12 6 23 - 55

Blue River 12 20 13 22 - 67

3-point goals – Knightstown 2 (Olivo, Reagan), Blue River 5 (Thornburgh 3, Froedge 2). Rebounds – Knightstown 32 (Olivo 8, Lukens 8), Blue River 34 (Klein 10, Hallatt 9). Total fouls – Knightstown 25, Blue River 20. Fouled out – Olivo, Lukens, Cross. Turnovers – Knightstown 17, Blue River 13. Records – Knightstown 6-4, Blue River 7-3.