EVANSVILLE -- After their first Poll Bowl matchup this season, Princeton Community basketball men lament Friday night's second chances.
But they can take heart from the possibility they'll get a second chance against Evansville Bosse.
"They got 18 offensive rebounds. That's a lot of second chances," Princeton Coach Ryan Haywood noted after the 11th-ranked Tigers' 64-56 loss to No. 6-ranked Bosse in the gym known as the Dawg House.
"Princeton's a regional team," Bosse Coach Shane Burkhart said after the Bulldogs, rebounding from a 64-46 November 30 loss at Jeffersonville, raised their record to 2-1 while dropping the Tigers to a 3-1 mark that they took into Saturday's Ford Center matchup vs. Evansville Harrison.
Friday marked Bosse's sixth straight win in the series since Princeton prevailed 72-68 Dec. 13, 2013, in Tiger Arena. Friday the Bulldogs gave themselves space, withstood a third-quarter challenge, and affirmed control in the fourth -- in contrast to Dec. 8, 2017, when they escaped with a 69-68 win at PCHS.
"This time our guys knew Princeton could beat us. A year ago our guys didn't think that could happen," said Burkhart, whose Bulldogs have reloaded after last campaigns 3A state runner-up finish.
"We executed the game plan to perfection. We wanted to get on their Stephan Wilkerson in transition to stop him from scoring that way. And we hit Zach Dove early so that he didn't do the things he usually does.
"To Princeton's credit, they didn't fold."
The Tigers gave the hosts an early wake-up call by scoring nine straight points to lead 9-4, sophomore Jurrien Ballard's three-pointer and 6-foot-10 center Matt Dove's basket capping that run. But the Bulldogs replied with a 12-2 run to lead 16-11 after a quarter, and they closed the first half with a 9-2 run for 29-18 command.
"After not executing well against their defensive pressure, we played better the third quarter. We defended better, and Wilkerson stepped up," Haywood said of the 6-foot-2 senior who, like Matt Dove, scored seven points in the third as the Tigers four times pulled within three points, the fourth time at 43-40 on Matt's two free throws. But Bosse re-asserted with nine straight points, 5-10 junior Kolten Sanford closing the third quarter with a last-second pull-up jumper and 6-5 senior Donovan McNeal dunking a transition basket for 49-40 space early the fourth.
Sanford, who transferred from Evansville North after starting there as a freshman and sophomore, capped an ensuing 8-0 run by hitting a three for 57-42 room with little over 5 1/2 minutes left. This after 5-11 junior sub and coach's son Eli Burkhart hit a three. Sanford finished with 18 points to 12 for Powell, who blocked several shots; and 10 for 6-0 senior Timariyon Blackwell.
"With Sanford they may be a better three-point shooting team than in the past," said Haywood, whose Tigers received a game-high 19 points, nine rebounds and four shot-blocks from Matt Dove, plus nine points each from Ballard, 5-10 senior guard Hunter Carey and Wilkerson. Carey's points came on a trio of threes, while Wilkerson fouled out with five minutes left and his team trailing 57-44.
"Stephan fouling out made it harder for us to come back," said Haywood, who saw 6-6 Zach Dove held to six points, far below his average. Zach did take 10 rebounds. Ballard dished four assists, while Wilkerson made four steals and dished two assists.
Sanford, whose 18 points included eight the third quarter and five the fourth, sat out the last 1:50 due to cramps. "Kolten stepped up, Blackwell made shots, Powell made a sweeping hook shot during one of our runs, and Eli's three was big," said Burkhart.
"We'll learn from this," said Haywood. "Our wings must make better cuts, and our guards must do better job of setting up cuts. Against a great team like Bosse, we must do better at handling their pressure. And instead of depending on our size to get rebounds, we must block out."
Bosse JV, erasing Princeton's 42-41 late-third-quarter lead by scoring 18 straight points, won Friday's opener 70-51. Six-three freshman Julian Norris led the Bulldogs with 23 points including two threes. Six-foot classmate Matthew Wagner hit five treys en route to 21. Six-three sophomore Xavier Burton added 10 in their team's first win after two losses. Six-four sophomore Rhett Thompson led Princeton JV with 15 points including two threes, and for the varsity made a fourth-quarter basket. Five-ten junior Collin Holzmeyer scored 10 with one trey for Coach Daniel Crabtree's JV Tigers, their record 1-3. Six-three sophomore Dominic Hardiman hit two treys en route to 10 for the JV, and like Thompson hit a varsity two.
PRINCETON COMMUNITY (56)
Wilkerson 2 5-5 9, Z. Dove 3 0-3 6, M. Dove 7 5-6 19, Carey 3 0-0 9, Ballard 1 6-6 9, D. Hardiman 1 0-0 2, Muckerheide 0 0-0 0, Thompson 1 0-0 2, De. Hardiman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 16-20 56.
EVANSVILLE BOSSE (64)
Layne 3 0-0 6, McNeal 3 0-3 6, Powell 6 0-1 12, Funches 0 2-2 2, Sanford 7 2-2 18, Blackwell 5 0-1 10, Burkhart 2 0-0 5, Parks 1 0-0 2, Lucy 0 1-2 1, Husk 1 0-0 2. Totals: 28 5-11 64.
Princeton . 11 . 7 . 22 . 16--56
Ev.Bosse . 16 . 13 . 16 . 17--62
3-point goals -- Princeton 4 (Carey 3, Ballard 1), Bosse 3 (Sanford 2, Burkhart 1). Fouls -- Princeton 14, Bosse 19. Fouled out -- Wilkerson.
JV: Bosse, 70-51.