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Vikings continue with regional win, play Saturday at Hatchet House

Mar. 11—LOOGOOTEE — For the Barr-Reeve Vikings, any game would be hard to surpass the energy and joy of the 5OT sectional title game with Orleans. However, Viking fans left Jack Butcher Arena Saturday just as happy and with their 24th win this season — and their ninth regional title.

No. 1 B-R (24-2) knocked off No. 4 Christian Academy (22-5), 50-43 to advance to semi-state. Although the game was close throughout, B-R remained disciplined and again used balanced scoring to survive and advance.

Evan Wehmeier led the Vikes with 12 points, and Donnie Miller and Seth Wagler added 11 each. Kendall Graber added eight and Braydon Knepp had six, while Landon Miller had two late free throws to round out the seven point win.

Coach Josh Thompson said he is not surprised with his team's success and improvement, but is a little surprised that they will be playing at semi-state.

"I thought we had the potential to get here, but I would not have predicted this. You know, you can talk about all the dedication, the shooting and all that stuff you want. But it's just purely the grit of these kids. They knew we were not going to go 12-12 again this year and we were going to be a lot better," said Thompson.

"When you think about the growth of Donnie and Seth, I also thought about Evan and Braydon Knepp tonight, and don't forget about Kendall, who made big shots. Landon Miller also coming in got some big rebounds. Those guys just refused to lose and this was a pretty good basketball team we beat tonight.

"This is a community win tonight. Their coach and I were talking about how he's been coming here for years and every time, they play against the Knepps, Grabers, Millers and on and on. He said just all these families, and these kids, have had a lot of success that just seems to be built in."

The Vikes went inside and out for their first two baskets from Wehmeier and Donnie Miller. Seth Wagler added a pair of baskets and after Miller's second trey, B-R was up 12-3 with 2:30 left in the first. Kendall Graber added a triple and B-R extended it to 15-3. However, the Warriors added the final two baskets of the quarter and cut the margin to 15-9.

CA crept back to 17-11 as a pair of charges were call against the Vikes. Wehmeier and Miller added five more points, but the Warriors stayed within seven and ended the half half down, 22-15. Miller led the Vikes in the first half with nine, as they went 9-22 shooting as a team, while David Cook led CA with seven.

Wagler continued to find ways to get to the basket, but Cooper Lousey answered with a triple. Viking Knepp added a 3-pointer to push the margin back to nine. CA's Josh Renfro cut into the lead with a traditional 3-point play while making the game's first free throw with 2:00 left in the third. Although the Vikes held for the last shot and missed, they were able to extend the halftime margin from seven to eight, 29-21 after three quarters.

Wehmeier gave the Vikes the first basket of the fourth and Graber pushed it to 12-point lead with a 3-ball, followed up by an And-1 from Wehmeier. Refro stayed hot from behind the arc, and was able to get the lead back under 10, with 3:42 left to play. He continued to cut into the margin with three free throws and lead was down to six. The combo of Wagler and Miller slowed the Warrior momentum with the next four points. Landon Miller added a big rebound, and for the second time in a week, Graber had a wide open transition lay-up to make it 47-36.

Landon Miller and Knepp iced the game with free throws at 50-43, as they won their ninth regional title at JBA since 2002.

The Warriors were led by Renfro with 18 and 10 from Cook.

The win moves them to the Hatchet House for the Class A semi-state, where they will play Evansville Christian in the second game. The first game will feature Bethesda Christian and Greenwood Christian.