By KEVIN HARRIS
JEFFERSONVILLE – Jeffersonville has picked the ideal time to play some of its best basketball of the season.
The Red Devils extended their winning streak to a season-best four games with a resounding 76-59 victory over Hoosier Hills Conference foe Jennings County on Saturday night at Johnson Arena. The win streak comes a little more than two weeks before the start of the Class 4A Seymour Sectional.
Statistically speaking, a huge reason for Jeff’s win streak is its offense has gotten on a roll. The Red Devils (12-8, 3-4 HHC) have averaged 77 points per game in the last four contests. Prior to the win streak, Jeff lost four in a row when it scored 48.3 points a game during that skid.
As for second-year Red Devil head coach Joe Luce, he thinks why his team has a four-game win streak is it is closing out games stronger than it did during the four-game losing streak.
“We’re playing more consistent and finishing games. We’re playing the full 32 minutes. We’re playing more of a complete game,” Luce said.
Jeff was burning up the nets against the Panthers (13-7, 3-4). The Devils connected on an impressive 61.2 percent of their field-goal attempts (30-of-49) and had 11 players in the scoring column.
Junior forward Bailey Falkenstein paced Jeff with a game-high 20 points. Red Devil sophomore guard Joe LaGrange poured in 16.
“We were able to get great looks on the perimeter because we got good looks inside,” Luce said.
Jeff’s defense was just as good as its offense.
The Red Devils held the Panthers to 19-of-56 shooting (33.9 percent). Jennings County only had two players in double figures. Senior forward Tyler Vogel registered a team-high 14 points, while teammate Travis Wilson scored 10.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Falkenstein – Jeff’s leading scorer played just three quarters and got the most out of them.
Falkenstein shot 7-of-10 from the field and hit all six of his free throws. During Jeff’s four-game win streak, he has averaged 25.5 points per contest as he has scored at least 20 points in each of those four games. Falkenstein posted 34 points in the Red Devils’ 72-66 home win over Evansville Reitz on Friday.
“He played outstanding for three quarters,” Luce said.
KEY SEQUENCE: The Panthers got within five points at 23-18 at the 4:34 mark of the second quarter on a three-point play by sophomore Josh Pettit.
Jeff responded by reeling off 15 consecutive points to talk a 38-18 halftime lead. The Red Devils carried that momentum over into the start of the third by scoring nine of the period’s first 12 points to extend their advantage to 47-21.
From the point when Jeff was up 23-18 until the 47-21 advantage, the Red Devils outscored Jennings 24-3. The highest Jeff’s lead got was 65-31 at the conclusion of the third.
UNSUNG HERO: LaGrange – The 6-foot guard showed how talented of a shooter he is. LaGrange was 6-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. He connected on his last five field goals, three of which were 3-pointers.
“He continues to get better every game. He’s handling the ball well along with shooting it well,” Luce said.
An honorable-mention unsung hero for Jeff was freshman forward Tre Coleman with eight points and a game-high eight rebounds. Coleman also was one of a few Red Devil front-line players to hold down Vogel.
“He gets better every night,” Luce said. “He continues to improve and he’s becoming a good player for us.”
WHAT JEFF DID WELL: Saturday’s contest was one of the Red Devils’ best offensive displays of the season. That was definitely the case in the middle two quarters, where Jeff nailed 20 of its 27 field-goal attempts (74.1 percent) and shot 5-of-9 from behind the 3-point arc (55.6 percent).
The Red Devils’ defense was solid, especially on Vogel. Even though he got into double digits, the 6-6 Panther standout made only three of his 16 field-goal attempts. Plus, Jeff outrebounded a big Jennings County squad, 34-26.
AREA OF CONCERN FOR JEFF: Even though the Red Devils have won four in a row, you still must wonder how they will handle their win streak mentally.
The Devils should take care of Corydon Central on Tuesday at Johnson Arena, but they cannot afford to have a letdown in that game with tougher opponents coming up.
After their matchup with Corydon, Jeff has three challenging games, starting with perennial Louisville powerhouse Ballard next Friday at Johnson Arena. That will be followed by two road contests against a really good Salem team on Tuesday, Feb. 21 and Class 4A No. 9 Castle on Friday, Feb. 24.
Can the Red Devils remain mentally focused during the final four games of the regular season and continue to build momentum toward the sectional? We’ll see.
NOTE: Prior to Saturday’s game, Jeff assistant coach and former Red Devil standout Joe Estes was honored for being named to the 2017 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Men’s Silver Anniversary team. Jeff High also honored two former Red Devils who have been selected to previous Silver Anniversary squads in Phil Caldwell and PK Falkenstein.
NEXT GAME: Home versus Corydon Central (7-12), Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
JEFFERSONVILLE 76, JENNINGS COUNTY 59
Jennings Co. 10 8 13 28-59
Jeff 17 21 27 11-76
Jennings County (13-7, 3-4 Hoosier Hills Conference): Tyler Vogel 14, Travis Wilson 10, Chase Ketcham 9, Cody Wilson 9, Josh Pettit 5, Bret Sawyer 4, Nick AmRhein 3, Calin Kinney 3, Gage Walters 2.
Jeff (12-8, 3-4): Bailey Falkenstein 20, Joe LaGrange 16, Tre Coleman 8, Mike Minton 6, Gerrin Moore 6, Gabe Gallahar 5, Jacob Jones 4, Cam Northern 4, Jailen Ernest 3, Drew Taylor 2, Antonio Thompson 2, Taj Sanders 0.
3-point field goals: Jennings County 7 (Ketcham 3, AmRhein 1, Kinney 1, C. Wilson 1, T. Wilson 1); Jeff 6 (LaGrange 4, Gallahar 1, Minton 1).
Rebounds: Jennings County 26 (Sawyer 8); Jeff 34 (Coleman 8).
Turnovers: Jennings County 13, Jeff 14.
Total fouls: Jennings County 16, Jeff 17.
Fouled out: none.