HARDWOOD HARDWARE: COUGARS CAPTURE ELUSIVE BI-COUNTY TOURNAMENT TITLE


In 1973, Richard Nixon was in The White House, gasoline sold for 38 cents a gallon and Bob Barker was in the middle of his first season hosting a new game show on CBS called “The Price is Right.”

It was also the only time the New Prairie’s boys basketball team won the Teacher’s Credit Union Bi-County Tournament.

Until Saturday night.

Behind a solid team effort on both ends of the floor, New Prairie (7-7) ended the longest championship drought of any team in the Bi-County Tournament with a 47-32 win over Bremen (5-9).

It was the Cougars first title since Jan. 20, 1973 when New Prairie knocked off John Glenn 56-49.

“It’s the community,” New Prairie coach Derrick DeShone said of the win. “I told others that it has nothing to do with me. It is about our community and our program and our kids. They won it. They sold out to our culture and to our program and the idea. And I couldn’t be more happy for them. And for those seniors, it is fantastic.”

There were no white knuckle moments Saturday night for the New Prairie faithful in a Bi-County Tournament history chalked full of heartbreaking losses, including its last title game appearance against Triton in 2012 (a 68-66 loss). On Saturday, it was a collective team effort that helped the Cougars win the title.

Tournament MVP Kody Webb led the winners with 13 points while Bryce Bloode and Michael Forrester had 11 and six points, respectively.

It was Bloode and Forrester who combined for four three-pointers in the first half over the Lions’ 3-2 zone to build a 26-16 lead at halftime.

“We knew that we had to come in and hit some shots against their zone and get them into a man (defense),” DeShone said. “A lot came into Bryce hitting shots and Kody getting him the ball. And Aidan (Cotter) being a threat inside.”

Even more impressive was New Prairie’s defense against Bremen standouts Jacob Strehler and Matt Box. Strehler and Box had 21 and 15 points, respectively in the win over Triton, but were held to 11 and seven points, respectively, in the final.

“More than anything, I thought our defense was terrific,” Deshone said. “We were active and we were engaged and they were ready. I could see it in their eyes before we came back out. They were ready to go.”

New Prairie advanced to the finals with a 61-48 win over John Glenn and won a 57-51 thriller over a very good LaVille team in a game that went down to the wire.

DeShone joins the late John Starks as the only coaches to lead the boys program to the Bi-County title.

“I said before the game that we wouldn’t want it any other way,” DeShone said. “I felt that we had to knock out maybe the top three teams to win this thing. And it just shows our kids that if they buy into the program and they do it together that they can do anything.”

New Prairie made it a clean sweep in the JV Tournament by knocking off Bremen Saturday afternoon 31-26, marking the first time in New Prairie history that both the JV and varsity teams won the tournament in the same year.

NEW PRAIRIE 47, BREMEN 32 at Dale E. Cox Gym, Lakeville. IN

BREMEN (32) Sterling 0-1 0-0 0, Klockow 0-1 1-2 1, Box 3-8 1-6 7, Burkholder 3-5 0-0 7, Snyder 1-1 0-0 2, Lopez 0-1 0-0 0, Caldwell 0-1 0-0 0, Feldman 0-0 0-0 0, Strehler 4-5 3-5 11, George 2-2 0-1 4. Totals 13-25 5-14 32.

NEW PRAIRIE (47) Boren 0-0 0-0 0, Cotter 2-3 2-2 6, Webb 5-10 2-3 13, Z. Ketterer 0-3 0-1 0, Ruiz 2-3 0-1 4, C. Ketterer 1-1 0-0 2, Bloode 3-8 2-2 11, Forrester 2-2 0-0 6, Williams 2-3 1-2 5. Totals 17-33 7-11 47.

Bremen 9 16 25 32 New Prairie 14 26 37 47

3-point shooting — Bremen 1-9 (Sterling 0-1, Klockow 0-1, Box 0-3, Burkholder 1-2, Lopez 0-1, Caldwell 0-1), New Prairie 6-19 (Webb 1-6, ZKetterer 0-2, Ruiz 0-1, Bloode 3-8, Forrester 2-2).

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