Jan. 20—The thank-you notes may be arriving at Joe Boehler's home in the next couple of days, particularly one from Sullivan County.
Boehler's West Vigo High School boys basketball team defeated Indian Creek 58-54 Saturday afternoon in the Jim Mann Green Dome, handing the Braves their first loss to a Western Indiana Conference opponent in the past two seasons.
West Vigo's girls weren't quite as helpful to the other conference contenders, losing 77-25 to the Braves (and 30-25 to Faith Wiseman).
The Viking boys never trailed against the eighth-ranked Braves, who may still be adjusting to the loss of leading scorer and rebounder Landon Sichting to a recent knee injury ("He may be the best player in the conference," coach Boehler said).
West Vigo hit four first-quarter 3-pointers and raced to a 16-5 lead, and maintained an advantage of eight to 13 points until the middle of the third quarter. Then the visitors started to make their move.
Three baskets in a row cut the West Vigo lead from 33-22 to 33-28 before Talan Boehler hit a 3-pointer for the Vikings. The younger Boehler connected again from long range to make the score 41-32, but the Braves got two straight baskets before Garrett Pugh's rebound basket at the third-quarter buzzer kept the home team ahead 43-36.
Ryan Smith opened the fourth quarter with two free throws but then Indian Creek went on a 10-2 run, cutting the lead to 47-46 just past the midpoint of the fourth quarter — although a three-second violation cost them a chance to take the lead.
Talan Boehler stopped the bleeding with another clutch 3-pointer — "I'm not sure how good a shot it was, but I'm glad it went in," his father said after the game — but Bobby Emberton matched it at the other end and it was 50-49.
Zeke Tanoos slipped a pass to Pugh, who drove for a layup, but Carter Modlin got to the basket at the other end to make it 52-51 with less than a minute to play. And Pugh, Tanoos and Talan Boehler each hit pairs of free throws in the last 30 seconds to keep the Vikings ahead.
"We put a lot of pressure on free throws in practice," Joe Boehler said later, happy to see that work pay off.
Talan Boehler had a game-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers, while Tanoos added 18 for West Vigo. Adam Crouch, expected to take up some of the scoring slack, led the Braves with 14 points and eight rebounds and Modlin, their 5-foot-11 center, added 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
"We've had moments this season when I feel like we play really well," coach Boehler said after the game. "Today [the Vikings] played together, defended ... I'm really proud of how we played.
"I think Wednesday night [a road win over South Vermillion] carried over to today. Fingers crossed, I'm hoping we're trending in the right direction."