FRENCH LICK - Wood Memorial never led in a 74-63 season-ending defeat to Northeast Dubois in the opening round of IHSAA Sectional play at Springs Valley Tuesday night.
The Jeeps (14-9) had control 41-34 after three quarters, and buried 23-of-29 free throws in the final period to pull away and earn the win.
"That's the story of the game," Trojans coach Kevin Menke said. "They hit big shots, and big free throws. They had multiple guys step up and make big baskets, and just kind of broke our backs."
Trailing 56-44 midway through the fourth quarter, the Trojans scored on seven straight possessions, but got no closer than seven points to the Jeeps. Paxon Bartley scored three straight baskets to make it 58-50, but Wood Memorial (15-9) was unable to get enough defensive stops in the final three minutes, quickly watching Northeast Dubois lead grow back to double-digits at 70-60 thanks to an easy Brandon Merkel layup with just under a minute to go.
For the game, the Jeeps only had eight turnovers, and connected on 26-of-36 foul shoots.
"They were tonight, and that's all it takes," Menke said of the Jeeps' efficiency on the offensive end.
Northeast Dubois jumped out to an early 12-6 lead, and extended it to 21-9 after one quarter, behind nine first quarter points from Reece Bauer. The sophomore led all scorers with 26 points.
"They just had a tremendous start to begin the game, and that's what we were trying to avoid."
A Walker Nurrenbern 3-pointer cut the lead to 27-20 midway through the second quarter, but the Jeeps responded with a 7-0 run to go up 34-24 at the break.
The Jeeps shot 21-of-40 from the field, while the Trojans were 20-of-40. Northeast Dubois won the rebounding war 26-19.
Lathan Falls led the Trojans in his final high school game with 20 points, while senior teammate Nurrenbern had 17. Bartley added 15. Cameron Saulman chipped in nine with three 3-pointers. Alex Harder also reached double-figures with 13 for the Jeeps.
Northeast Dubois will play Cannelton in Friday's second semi-final game at 7 p.m.