Tipping off their 100th season Saturday night (Nov. 30), the Batesville Bulldogs held the visiting Jac-Cen-Del Eagles at bay from the first quarter on, eventually winning 68-57 and posting a sixth consecutive victory over their county rivals.
Two free throws by junior Austin Cornn early in the second quarter put BHS up for good at 13-12. An eight-point game at halftime, the Eagles scrapped back to within six midway through the fourth. The Dogs took the last segment, 14-9.
“We worked hard to get this win, but didn’t play anywhere near what we’re capable of ... but still a solid performance,” said head coach Aaron Garrett, now 11-1 in season openers against JCD.
Despite not hitting his first 3-pointer until late in the third quarter, senior shooting guard Colt Meyer still racked up a game-high 28 points on 14-of-16 foul shooting (88%).
“He did not play near his best game, so that’s awfully exciting (for the future),” said his coach. “What he did do is continue to move, make good passes, and attack at appropriate times, getting himself to the free throw line.”
Junior Sam Voegele scored from several spots on the floor, leading to a 17-point night. Junior point guard RJ Powell got eight of his 10 points before intermission.
Powell was credited with the season’s first points, he and Voegele nailing jumpers for a quick 4-0 lead. The Eagles got back-to-back threes from Wyatt Day and Caleb Simon to flip the lead, before Meyer scored off a steal.
Simon and Powell traded drives for an 8-all tie. A 15-footer by Brandon Baber led to a 12-9 Jac-Cen-Del advantage after the first eight minutes.
Out of the break, Powell spotted a wide-open Voegele under the basket to pull the Dogs within one. A little flip-in by Justin Ohlmansiek with 6:04 left in the half made it 15-14 in favor of the hosts. The Bulldogs began to gain some separation courtesy of a 13-7 spread leading into the half.
At the 4:06 mark, a steal by Powell was advanced to Cornn with the latter dishing to Meyer for an easy two. JCD twice dialed back a 7-point deficit, but a steal and conversion by Powell – and later a Powell lay-in with time running out – made it 29-21 at the break.
Batesville’s core varsity eight – others are seniors Charlie Dice and Jacob Deutsch, junior Lleyton Ratcliffe and sophomore Thomas Raver – each contributed early.
“I trust all eight,” Garrett said. “The first game, you’re always putting pieces of the current puzzle together. We had a lot of new guys playing under the bright lights, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with them. Their roles and minutes may fluctuate as we go on, but they played awfully hard and communication was good.”
The Dogs came out of the locker room on fire, capping off a 15-0 run that started in the first half. After Ratcliffe fed Voegele for a deuce, the hosts earned a pair of defensive stops. Following Voegele’s post move and Meyer’s steal and bucket, first-year head coach Jack Day called timeout.
Meyer completed a traditional 3-point play and Ratcliffe just missed another when his foul shot rattled off. A jumper by Simon ended JCD’s drought, making it 40-23. The field goal sparked a 7-2 mini-run by the Eagles, but BHS did a nice job of keeping the margin in double digits. Meyer’s triple and two free throws helped lead to a 49-38 cushion with a quarter to play.
Some unselfish play – Raver to Meyer for three, and Voegele to Raver for two – made it a 54-43 tilt before the guests got a little cheeky. A basket by Simon preceded Baber’s 3-point play, cutting the deficit to 6.
A Voegele follow-up of a FT miss, and later a 3-pointer, extended the lead back to a dozen with four minutes to go. The Bulldogs made 8 of 10 charities in the last few minutes for the win.
“This is a big first step,” added Garrett. “I think fans got a dose of what this team’s going to be like. There are mistakes we definitely have to clean up, especially closing out on defense. We were also unofficially outrebounded 40-26 and we can’t do that. But film doesn’t lie, and we’ll break down all the good things that happened as well.”
Simon led the Eagles with 18 points and Day put in 17. Ohlmansiek added 8.
Batesville (1-0) welcomes rival Greensburg Friday night. The game will not count toward Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference standings.
The junior varsity opened the evening with an 11-point win as well, 57-46. Eli Pierson led three players in double figures with 17 points; Calvin Sherwood added 14 and Alex Siefert 11. Alec Bunselmeier chipped in 7, Cole Werner 4 and Cody Mohr and Ben Schebler 2 apiece.
Notes: BHS is planning to honor players, coaches, managers and cheerleaders from teams throughout its 100-year history this season.
On Jan. 25, teams from the 1950s-70s will be featured. The regional championship team of 1971 will also be recognized.
The 1980s and ‘90s, including the regional championship team of 1994, will be the focus on Feb. 1.
On Feb. 15, the 21st-century teams will take center stage. Three regional titlists (2007, 2008, 2011) will be highlighted.
The 1943 and 2001 state finalists, along with all Indiana All-Stars, will be honored before the varsity game on Feb. 22. Note this game and the Feb. 15 game are afternoon tips.