BASCOM - Someone at New Riegel needs to clear some room. There's a new piece of hardware coming to town.
Thursday night, the Battle of Bullfrog road trophy debuted as New Riegel traveled to face its rivals at Hopewell-Loudon.
No matter where the trophy goes in the future, the first engraving will always reflect the Blue Jackets' 51-37 victory over the Chieftains.
"It's a big matchup. Every year it's probably our best drawing game," said New Riegel coach Todd Aichholz. "To have something we can take back, hang in our local community restaurant, it means something to the community."
Blue Jacket senior Korey Williams was one who was proud the trophy's first home will be in New Riegel.
"This trophy means everything," he said. "Coming here, I feel like everyone in the stands thought it was going to be a close game, but we wanted to show them with how unselfish our team was, we could pull away with the win."
The Battle of Bullfrog Road was a name given to the rivalry back in the 1960s, after the road that served as the dividing line between school districts. The name had since faded away, but New Riegel's Brandyn Reinhart was one who was proud to be a part of the revival.
"I'm just happy to be part of the tradition now," Reinhart said. "What our parents started, we're now starting up again. We're just ready to keep the tradition going and proud to bring it home to New Riegel."
Hopewell-Loudon opened the game with an 8-4 run due mostly to the inside play of Weston Hill and Tyler Imes. New Riegel soon took charge, surging ahead on a pair of trifectas from Williams.
"I felt in the beginning we were a little nervous; I could see in everyone's eyes we were all nervous," he said. "But we came together. When they made that run right in the beginning of the game, we all got together and said, 'This is enough. Let's get some more energy.' We play a lot better with more energy."
New Riegel held a 15-13 advantage after one quarter, and stretched it to 27-19 at halftime.
With the game still close, Aichholz said he felt the early stages of the second half would go a long way in determining the course of the final 16 minutes.
"We knew that first three minutes out of the locker room were going to be key for us," he said. "We had that little bit of a cushion there, so we knew those first three minutes we were either going to let them back in the ball game and have a tight one throughout, or we'd come out, play our game and really extend it."
Mirroring Aichholz's thoughts, the opening minutes became a microcosm for how the rest of the game would play out.
On New Riegel's first possession, the Blue Jackets picked up three offensive rebounds before Reinhart finally got fouled and sunk both free throws.
Meanwhile, Hopewell-Loudon turned the ball over on its first four second half possessions.
New Riegel getting to the offensive glass became a common theme; 19 of New Riegel's 36 rebounds came on the offensive end.
"Everybody crash," Reinhart said when asked the secret to their rebounding success. "Coach's been saying all season, get four, five guys to the boards. That's what we did tonight and it showed in the stat sheet."
Allowing the Blue Jackets to collect so many offensive rebounds was one thing that doomed the Chieftains, H-L coach Adam Smith said.
"It killed us," Smith said. "I think the first two possessions of the second half they shot the ball seven times. ... It was crazy. Until I watch the film, I don't know if we weren't checking anybody out, or if we got the worst night's worth of bounces in the world. I don't know. They just killed us on the offensive boards."
His team's 22 turnovers also were an issue.
"There was a stretch where we held them on four or five straight possessions and I don't even know if we got a shot off," Smith said. "They waited for us there for that stretch there in the third quarter and we couldn't even get a shot. It wasn't like they were forced turnovers. It was us, trying to make some spectacular pass that didn't need to be made."
Alec Gregg knocked down a 3-pointer to get his team back within nine in the third quarter, but Andrew Hohman answered right back at the other end get the lead back to 12, where it was heading into the fourth.
After Williams knocked down another trifecta to push the lead to 15, Hopewell-Loudon answered with an 8-1 run as Imes and Ryan Lommerse each hit a pair of baskets. New Riegel answered, though, with seven straight points to ice the game.
It wasn't New Riegel's best shooting night, going 17 of 54 for the game, but its rebounding edge and defense were enough to lead to the win.
"We have to rely on our defense in games like tonight," Aichholz said. "That's what we did tonight. If you don't bring your offensive A-game, you just have to grind it out defensively."
Reinhart and Williams each tallied 15 points to lead New Riegel (4-1, 2-0 Midland Athletic League). Reinhart also shared the team-high in rebounds with Jake Dryfuse at six.
Imes and Gregg each led Hopewell-Loudon (2-1, 1-1) with 10 points. Imes also pulled in a team-high six rebounds.