By KEVIN HARRIS
JEFFERSONVILLE – If there was a team in Southern Indiana that desperately needed a victory at this point in the season, it was the Jeffersonville Red Devils.
On Saturday night at Johnson Arena, Jeff got that important “W” by cruising past Indianapolis Tech 79-43 to snap a four-game losing streak. Red Devils’ head coach Joe Luce hopes enduring that losing skid taught his players how to deal with adversity.
“We all needed it,” Luce said about Saturday’s victory.
During the skid, Luce felt the Red Devils played solid basketball at times, but they had trouble performing consistently well throughout the contest. Against Tech, Jeff finally put a sound 32 minutes together.
“We played well in spurts (during the losing streak) and played against some decent teams and did not finish,” the second-year Red Devil boss said. “We just were able tonight to play a complete game and we needed that and it was good for us. I think our guys have a lot of confidence in them.”
Jeff (9-8) broke out of a huge offensive slump versus the Titans (4-9). The Red Devils scored more than 70 points for the third time in 2016-17, shooting 29-of-54 from the field (53.7 percent). They committed just seven turnovers.
Jeff’s defense also got the job done by allowing a season-low point total. Tech shot 18-of-49 from the floor (36.7 percent) and 2-of-14 from 3-point range (14.3) against the Devils, who primarily used a zone during the contest.
“Offensively, I thought a lot of it was off our defense,” Luce said. “We did a great job defensively of rebounding the basketball and keeping them out of the paint. We finished things off at the offensive end with some runouts and some easy shots.”
Junior forward Bailey Falkenstein led Jeff in scoring again with a game-high 26 points. Red Devil sophomore Joe LaGrange ended up with 12 points, while teammates Gabe Gallahar and Mike Minton each scored nine.
Also for Jeff, Gerrin Moore recorded eight points and six rebounds and Tre Coleman grabbed a game-high seven boards.
No Tech player reached double figures. Jacarr Boone and Ernest Myles topped the Titans’ scoring column with seven points.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Falkenstein – The Red Devils’ leading scorer registered 22 of his 26 points in the first half. In the opening 16 minutes, Falkenstein nailed seven of his nine field-goal attempts and was perfect from 3-point range (3-of-3) and the free-throw line (5-of-5).
For the game, Falkenstein shot 9-of-13 from the floor, 3-of-3 from behind the arc and 5-of-5 from the stripe. But Luce liked the way Falkenstein defended and hit the boards.
“I thought he was obviously good at the offensive end,” Luce said. “But more importantly, he rebounded and I thought he defended better tonight than he has been. He just played really well.”
KEY SEQUENCE: The Red Devils had a fantastic second quarter, where they turned the game into a blowout.
Leading 16-11 after the first period, Jeff outscored the Titans 31-11 in the second to go up 47-22 at halftime. During the stanza, the Red Devils made 9-of-15 field goals, 6-of-10 3-pointers and 7-of-8 free throws.
In the second, Falkenstein scored 10 points and Minton registered all nine of his points by hitting 3-of-5 from 3-point land.
As for the Titans, Jeff held them in the second to 5-of-12 field-goal shooting and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc.
UNSUNG HERO: LaGrange – For the second game in a row, LaGrange reached double digits as he scored eight of his 12 points in the second half. He had 14 points Friday night in the Devils’ 55-47 setback at Bedford North Lawrence.
The son of former Jeff head coach Tim LaGrange also did a good job of helping run Jeff’s offense and passing the ball to the open man.
“Joe continues to grow each and every game,” Luce said. “He has to handle the ball and has to make big shots. He’s just growing into a very good player. He’s taking it to the rack. He’s knocking down free throws and his mid-range game is good. He’s just becoming more of a complete player each week.”
WHAT JEFF DID WELL: The Red Devils shot the ball incredibly well, especially from 3-point range.
For the game, Jeff connected on 55 percent of its 3’s (11-of-20), including 8-of-12 in the first half. Along with Falkenstein and Minton hitting three 3-pointers apiece, Red Devil junior guard Gabe Gallahar also knocked down three trifectas.
Luce credited his team’s ball movement and firing shots in a familiar setting for the hot shooting.
“We moved the ball well and it was nice to be at home,” Luce said. “We just had guys confidently knock down a couple of shots. When one goes down, you’re usually going to get two or three on top of it. I thought (Friday) night we got great shots. We just didn’t make them. Tonight, we got the same shots and we were able to capitalize.”
AREA OF CONCERN FOR JEFF: Now that the Red Devils have broken their four-game skid, can they build off Saturday’s win and get on a roll before the Class 4A Seymour Sectional?
It will not be easy.
Six of Jeff’s next seven opponents each have winning records. Those foes include perennial powerhouse Louisville Ballard (17-5) and Class 4A No. 8 Castle (16-2).
JEFF’S NEXT GAME: Home vs. Evansville Harrison (11-5), Thursday, 8 p.m.
JEFFERSONVILLE 79, INDIANAPOLIS TECH 43
Indpls. Tech 11 11 11 10-43
Jeff 16 31 10 22-79
Tech (4-9): Jacarr Boone 7, Ernest Myles 7, Jalen Bush 6, Dashaun Watkins 6, Damion Wilburn 5, Isaac Halvorson 4, Samirj Hayes 4, Jalen Fountain 2, Willie Patterson 2, Reggie Bell 0, Jaylen Turner 0.
Jeff (9-8): Bailey Falkenstein 26, Joe LaGrange 12, Gabe Gallahar 9, Mike Minton 9, Gerrin Moore 8, Tre Coleman 6, Antonio Thompson 4, Jacob Jones 3, Drew Taylor 2, Jailen Ernest 0, Cam Northern 0.
3-point field goals: Tech 2 (Bush 1, Wilburn 1); Jeff 11 (Falkenstein 3, Gallahar 3, Minton 3, LaGrange 1, Moore 1).
Rebounds: Tech 35 (Myles 7); Jeff 29 (Coleman 7).
Turnovers: Tech 15, Jeff 7.
Total fouls: Tech 17, Jeff 7.
Fouled out: none.
Junior varsity score: Jeff 64, Tech 57.