Luce likes where his team is at entering New Albany game
By KEVIN HARRIS
JEFFERSONVILLE – Jeffersonville head coach Joe Luce is certain about one thing as his team prepares for archrival and defending Class 4A state champion New Albany this coming Friday at Johnson Arena.
He likes how the Red Devils are playing at this point in the 2016-17 season. Jeff improved to 7-3 last Thursday at Johnson Arena with a 68-59 victory over Class 2A No. 2 Northeastern in the third-place game of the inaugural Ted Throckmorton Memorial Tournament.
“We’ve played well all season long,” Luce said. “We had a couple of games that we haven’t necessarily finished like we would like to. But overall, we’ve played very well together as a team. We’re sitting at 7-3 after 10 games and we can live with that for right now. We’re just hoping to get better.”
The Red Devils hope the momentum they acquired from the three-day tournament, which was named for the late color commentator for WXVW-1450 AM Radio, will help them snap a four-game losing streak in their series with the Class 4A No. 4 Bulldogs. New Albany leads the all-time series 80-77.
“We’re looking forward to next Friday and going into a very exciting environment,” Luce said. “Hopefully, our crowd will be behind us and it will be a hostile environment for them. We know it will be a good matchup.”
Luce is hopeful that the four games the Red Devils played in a three-day span during the Throckmorton Memorial Tournament will pay off down the road. Jeff started the tourney with a 94-61 first-round triumph over Carroll County (Ky.) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Devils defeated Christian Academy of Indiana in the quarterfinals 66-54 before losing their semifinal matchup with Indianapolis Cathedral 60-51.
“A lot of it is endurance and togetherness,” Luce said. “We want to be able to play tired. We want to be able to play mentally challenged, which you have to be when playing different team after different team and we did that. Finally, we had to be able to be in a position where we had a chance to win games. We put ourselves in a position each night to win a game. Even when we got beat by Cathedral, we still were in a position to win that game.”
Luce had nothing but good things to say about Jeff’s new tournament.
“It was very well put together,” Luce said. “Our athletic office and our administration were tremendous. Our community was tremendous. It was overall just a great experience for all the kids and the coaches.”
Class 3A No. 10 Danville defeated Cathedral in Thursday’s championship game, 56-55.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Bailey Falkenstein, Jeff – The Red Devils’ leading scorer paced Jeff with 17 points. After scoring just two points in the first period, the junior guard responded with a combined 15 points in the middle two quarters. Along with his point production, Falkenstein was effective in passing the ball to open teammates and getting Jeff’s half-court offense to flow better.
“Each and every night, if he doesn’t lead us in scoring, he leads in some category,” Luce said. “He had a couple of tough (games), but he came back and really played well tonight.”
KEY PLAY: At the start of the second quarter, a bucket by freshman forward Tre Coleman off a Falkenstein sparked a 12-5 run to give Jeff control of the game as it pulled out to a 27-15 advantage. In the second stanza, the Red Devils outscored the Knights (8-3) 26-19 to go up 41-29 at halftime. Jeff shot 11-of-13 in the period.
“I thought our ball movement was great in the second quarter,” Luce said. “As the ball moved, we were able to get guys in position where they got great shots and shots they were capable of making. If we continue to play like that, we’re going to be a hard team to beat.”
JEFF’S STRENGTHS: Jeff had four guys in double figures, which includes two players coming off the bench. Along with Falkenstein, senior Mike Minton tallied 13 points and Coleman and senior Cam Northern provided some major pine scoring with 12 and 10, respectively.
“Our team has been balanced,” Luce said. “When we have four-plus guys in double figures, we’re a hard team to beat. We’re excited about where we’re at.”
JEFF’S STRUGGLES: Leading 58-39 entering the fourth, the Devils lost some of their moxie in the final stanza by getting outscored 20-10 by Northeastern. Jeff struggled with the Knights’ defensive pressure as they pressed and trapped more in trying to make a rally.
“Especially with a young team, you start playing on your heels and you forget to play to win,” Luce said. “Those guys did a great job putting pressure on us and we didn’t respond very well.”
UNSUNG HERO: Coleman – Along with his 12 points off the bench, the 6-foot-4 freshman ended up with six rebounds and used his athleticism effectively in the paint against the Northeastern bigs.
JEFF’S NEXT GAME: Hosts New Albany, next Friday, 7:30 p.m.
This article, which is the first one for this website, is dedicated to the tournament’s namesake, Ted Throckmorton.
I got to know Ted, who broadcasted games for more than 50 years on WXVW-AM, very well during my almost 18 years as a sports writer at The Evening News and News and Tribune in Jeffersonville. Most of the time, we were at the same games doing our respective jobs. During that time, we became good friends and developed a great rapport with each other.
I am sure Ted was smiling down from heaven this week while watching the inaugural Throckmorton Memorial Tournament take place. He will always be missed.
TED THROCKMORTON MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT
JEFFERSONVILLE 68, NORTHEASTERN 59
Northeastern 10 19 10 20-59
Jeff 15 26 17 10-68
Northeastern (8-3): Freeman Brou 18, Tyler Smith 18, Nate Reynolds 12, Jalen Hillard 4, Kaleb Mikesell 3, Harrison Rice 2, Jordan Stolle 2, Blake Hancock 0, Alex Reynolds 0.
Jeff (7-3): Bailey Falkenstein 17, Mike Minton 13, Tre Coleman 12, Cam Northern 10, Gerrin Moore 9, Jacob Jones 6, Joe LaGrange 1, Gabe Gallaher 0.
Three-point field goals: Northeastern 7 (Brou 2, N. Reynolds 2, Smith 2, Mikesell 1); Jeff 7 (Falkenstein 3, Jones 2, Minton 1, Moore 1).
Free throws: Northeastern 2-6, Jeff 7-14.
Rebounds: Northeastern 28 (Smith 10); Jeff 33 (Falkenstein 7).