New life has been breathed into the six-year-old connection between Edinburgh and Loogootee in boys basketball.
Players on the Lancers roster, young kids the day their heroes lost a Class A semistate classic to Loogootee in 2012, now get to play on the Lions’ home floor.
With all five starters finishing with double-digit point totals Saturday night, Edinburgh defeated Trinity Lutheran, 71-59, in the Edinburgh sectional championship game before a near capacity crowd.
The victory sets up a meeting with Christian Academy in the morning semifinal of the Loogootee Regional on Saturday. The second game features sixth-ranked Barr-Reeve against Springs Valley with the winning teams returning for the 8 p.m. final.
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It’s the type of scenario first-year coach Keith Witty hoped would be in store for the Lancers.
Now he gets to gameplan for it.
“What I like most is how this team has grown together,” Witty said. “We have guys who weren’t with them last year, but if one guy’s not having a good night, he doesn’t get down and finds the other guy who is having a good night. They work well together.”
Center Christian Cox’s double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds led the way for Edinburgh, but the senior had plenty of help.
Junior guard Coltan Henderson drained three 3-pointers on his way to 13 points, followed by forward Justin Fosskuhl (12), point guard Bryce Burton (11) and senior forward Parker Bryant (10).
Bryant looks forward to the opportunity to play at Loogootee.
“It’s crazy. It’s something you look forward to as a kid,” he said. “We were there as little kids watching the older kids play. It’s just something you dream of your whole life. It’s just the character of this team. Everyone gets along so well. We’re all so bonded together.
“We pass the ball. We share the ball. There’s no selfish play.”
Trinity Lutheran led on three occasions in the opening quarter and settled in with a 14-12 advantage. But a 10-0 scoring run to open the second quarter propelled Edinburgh to a 31-20 halftime lead.
Bryant’s layup started it, followed by his two free throws. The Lancers widened the gap on triples from Henderson and Fosskuhl before Trinity finally stopped the run with a free throw by freshman guard Tyler Goecker.
Late in the third period, the Lancers, holding on to a 42-35 lead, came through what could have been the key sequence in the game with two baskets scored in the final 4.9 seconds.
It started with a layup by Burton, followed by Henderson’s steal of the ensuing inbounds pass by the Cougars. Henderson hit a short jumper off glass at the buzzer and suddenly it was an 11-point cushion.
Edinburgh’s fourth-quarter lead grew as large as 18 points, but a mini-run by the Cougars cut it to 10 with 1:26 remaining. Trinity Lutheran got as close as nine points twice in the final minute, but Cox’s old-fashioned three-point play at 6.6 seconds closed it out.
“We’re all close, and if one of us isn’t scoring the other ones will pick us up,” Cox said. “We just lead each other, we try our best and we win games.”
Senior swingman Jacob Rowe played his final game in a Cougars’, making it a good one with a game-high 22 points.