Looking at the big picture
MISHAWAKA — Think about it.
There were some good things to come out of New Prairie’s 69-43 loss to Penn in boys basketball Wednesday night:
Everybody got to play.
Nobody got hurt.
The game was over fairly quick.
And playing a team like the Class 4A, No. 9-ranked Kingsmen has to pay off in the long run, correct?
“We don’t want to lose sight of the big picture,” New Prairie coach Kris Davis said. “This isn’t the result we wanted, but when we get to the (Class 3A) sectional and we’re playing teams like (South Bend) St. Joseph and (Mishawaka) Marian and Culver Academies, we will be a lot better prepared.”
Rushing to a 24-10 lead after one quarter, Penn (6-1, 4-0 Northern Indiana Conference) iced the decision early, giving a lot of subs the opportunity to see playing time by the end of the game.
Of course, it didn’t help New Prairie’s cause that Penn was coming off its first loss of the season, a 3-point thriller to Michigan City last Saturday. Holiday-time or not, the Kingsmen were in a foul mood.
The result: Penn hit 53.8 percent from the field, including 8-of-12 from three-point range. It also sank 19-of-20 free throws.
New Prairie, meanwhile, only shot four free throws all game, all by Chase Ketterer, and only sank one. Cade Boniface scored nine points to lead New Prairie (2-5). The Cougars also got eight from Ketterer.
As for Penn, Noah Applegate scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists. All-State guard Drew Lutz chipped in 16 points and five assists.
At least the Cougars didn’t have to worry about Penn’s crowd. For whatever reason, the Kingsmen have struggled all season to attract student support, and Wednesday night, there were only six fans in the Penn student section. Count ’em, six. Penn officials said they are working on that.
Though the final score was lopsided, the Cougars played Penn fairly evenly through the second half. Midway through the third period, New Prairie went on a 9-4 run with Jake Tuttle, Ketterer and Evan Foerg each driving to the basket to spark a minor rally.
But the Kingsmen closed out the third quarter with a 9-0 run, and any hopes of a comeback fizzled.
While Penn had a decided size advantage – the Kingsmen go 6-foot-7, 6-6, 6-2 across their front row – New Prairie chose not to slow the game. The Cougars pushed the ball whenever they could and attacked the rim from beginning to end.
“For us to be our best, we have to do that,” said Davis, who freely substitutes throughout the game and fully utilizes his bench. “We want a lot of kids to get in the flow of the game. I’m trying to give a lot of kids meaningful experience. We’re developing a complete varsity team.”
So, even though some shots were blocked and there was a lot of physical activity under the basket, the Cougars continued to attack, attack.
“Penn’s size and speed wore us down a little bit,” Davis said. “But I think we played them as well as we could have hoped.”
Penn 69, New Prairie 43
Cade Boniface led the Cougars with nine points.