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Panthers top Vikings in Henry County battle

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Host Knightstown’s Aaron Reagan (20) attempts a shot against the defense of Blue River Valley’s Jacob Madden (43) and Joey Liles (21) during Tuesday night’s boys basketball game. Reagan scored 11 points in the Panthers’ 62-51 victory over the Vikings.
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Knightstown's Kyler Burchett (10) lays the ball up for two points as Blue River Valley's Bryce Klein (5), Brevin Hallatt (33), and Andrew Froedge (23) plus the Panthers' Trevor Cook (12) and James Lukens (32) watch during Tuesday night's boys basketball game at Knightstown. The hosts got revenge for a loss to the Vikings in the Henry County Tournament by posting a 62-51 victory.

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

KNIGHTSTOWN – When the Blue River Valley High School boys basketball team visited Knightstown Tuesday night, it was a battle of two teams looking to reverse recent fortunes.

The game postponed from last Thursday went the home team’s way in the battle of Henry County rivals, as the Panthers posted a 62-51 win.

With the victory, Knightstown improved to 9-7 overall on the season, while the visiting Vikings fell to 10-7.

Before Tuesday night, the Panthers had lost five of seven games after a 6-2 start to the regular season. And Knightstown had suffered a lopsided loss at Tri-Eastern Conference (TEC) foe Northeastern this past Saturday afternoon.

None of that mattered on this night, however, as the Panthers nosed ahead at intermission, stretched out the lead in the third quarter, and hit enough field goals and free throws down the stretch to hold off a furious Blue River rally late.

In many ways, it was a very even game, as both teams took 54 field goal attempts, and had frequent trips to the free throw line.

But notably, KHS recorded 19 field goals in the game, as compared to 15 for the Vikings. Also of note, the Panthers hit seven treys to just three for Blue River.

That is a difference of 12 points, and the margin of victory was 11.

Besides shooting, the timing of the misses was critical, as was the timing of turnovers, as suggested by Head Coach Brian Klein of the Vikings.

“I felt like we left a lot of scoring opportunities out there, especially in the third quarter,” Klein said with a shake of his head. “We missed a lot of inside shots, layups at the end of good drives, and missed some critical free throws in that third quarter. It really hurt our chances.”

In fact, after trailing just 25-22 at intermission, Blue River scored just six points in the entire third quarter, and trailed by seven at 35-28 entering the last eight minutes of play. The hosts had just 10 points themselves in that quarter, but a huge trey at the buzzer by senior guard Jose Olivo got the lead to seven points.

Olivo would finish with a team-high 17 points for Knightstown, one of four Panthers scoring in double figures. Treavor Cook had 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds, unofficially. Aaron Reagan had 11 points, including three treys, and Kyler Burchett scored 10.

The margin might have been even larger, as KHS missed nine charity tosses in the second half, converting on 14 of 23 free throws when Blue River was forced to foul in stopping the clock. And the Panthers had 10 fielders after intermission, remaining aggressive in driving to the basket even when playing with the lead late in the game.

Knightstown hit seven of 15 treys in the contest, as compared to just three of 18 for the Vikings.

“I thought we missed some open looks from three, and with three missed free throws in the third quarter, we fell too far behind,” an unhappy Klein added.

As for Knightstown, an efficient ball-control offense throughout the game slowed the pace of play, and it seemed to help the home team, at least on this night.

“We have been practicing on controlling the ball better on offense, working the ball with more patience, in order to get quality shots,” Olivo said after the win. “I thought we did a better job tonight, and in getting this win, it was big for our team.”

The Vikings had beaten Knightstown in the opening round of the Henry County Tournament early last month.

“I think there was a bit of a revenge motive for us, in regards to the county tourney loss,” said a smiling Dusty Magee, the Panther head varsity coach. “We have not had a lot of practice recently, what with the cold and snowy weather, and the fact is that we cannot practice if school is cancelled by weather. I think that hurt us this past Saturday in the game at Northeastern, but we looked and played a lot better in this game. It is even more gratifying to win when several of our kids are playing through some minor injuries.”

Magee mentioned that Cook played with a knee injury, one that limited his movement and jumping ability, and James Lukens has a variety of injuries. Then, Lukens was knocked out of this game in the third quarter with a hip injury when taking a charge.

Cook was forced to play inside for the balance of the game, and still managed to be the game’s leading rebounder.

Klein felt the Panthers outplayed his team in showing more quickness getting to 50-50 balls, loose balls throughout the game, and also pointed to some rust on his charges from lack of practices.

“That is not an excuse, but it is just a reality that shows when a team is not as sharp as they were playing before the forced absence of play, even a lack of practices, much less game play,” the BRV coach explained.

Andrew Froedge had a game-high 18 points for the Vikings, but was the only Blue River player to reach double figures. Brevin Hallatt had nine for the visitors, with Cole Cross adding eight, Jackson Thornburgh seven, and Bryce Klein six.

Blue River had just 10 field goal attempts in the entire third quarter, hitting just one trey.

“This was kind of a grind-out win, but we will take it,” Magee concluded. “I’m just ecstatic that we have now won nine games, this after winning just three two years ago, and only six last season. We will just keep on trying to add wins.”

Knightstown is at North Decatur Saturday night, while Blue River is scheduled to be on the road for two games this weekend.

The Vikings play at Centerville Friday, and are scheduled to travel to Northeastern Saturday night. That game might be moved, since the Blue River girls team competes in regional play Saturday at Tipton.

Knightstown 62, Blue River Valley 51

BLUE RIVER (51)

Klein 1-4 4-6 6, Thornburgh 3-12 0-0 7, Froedge 6-18 5-8 18, Cross 1-8 6-8 8, Hallatt 3-7 3-4 9, Madden 0-0 0-0 0, Liles 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 15-54 18-26 51.

KNIGHTSTOWN (62)

Olivo 5-12 5-9 17, Burchett 4-9 2-4 10, Cook 3-8 6-9 13, Reagan 3-12 2-2 11, Lukens 0-3 2-2 2, Burton 4-10 0-0 9, Porter 0-1 0-2 0, Campion 0-0 -0 0, Schaetzle 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-54 17-28 62.

Blue River`9`13`6`23`-51

Knightstown`7`18`10`27``-62

3-point goals – Blue River 3 (Thornburgh, Froedge, Liles), Knightstown 7 (Reagan 3, Olivo 2, Cook, Burton). Rebounds –Blue River 29 (Klein 8), Knightstown 33 (Cook 9). Total fouls – Blue River 23, Knightstown 19. Fouled out – Burton. Turnovers - Blue River 12, Knightstown 12. JV score – Knightstown 49 (Fort 16, Craft 12), Blue River 43 (Felix 9, Hamm 8). Records – Blue River 10-7, Knightstown 9-7.