In the game of basketball, it’s not how you start, but rather how you finish. In Jeffersonville’s case Saturday evening, it was both.
The host Red Devils jumped out to a commanding first-quarter lead and held off a valiant comeback effort with strong free-throw shooting down the stretch of a 67-60 win over Wayne High School.
Junior Bailey Falkenstein led Jeffersonville with 23 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Gabe Gallahar tallied 15 points and went 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Junior post Gerrin Moore chipped in 12 points and five rebounds.
Falkenstein was a “catalyst” for the Red Devils Saturday, per Jeffersonville coach Joe Luce. He totaled nine of his 23 points in the first quarter on 4-of-5 shooting and went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth to help clinch the win.
“He’s definitely a guy that’s shown great charisma and just great heart on the offensive end,” Luce said. “He’s done a fantastic job of being a guy that steps up, not being afraid to take the big shots. … He just plays with a real confidence. He’s strong enough to get done what he needs to get done.”
Jeffersonville smothered the visiting Generals early and tallied 13 points off nine first-quarter turnovers. Falkenstein gave the Red Devils a 4-0 lead off back-to-back Wayne miscues to open scoring. After Moore’s first bucket made it 6-2, Wayne committed three turnovers in a matter of 38 seconds, and Jeffersonville capitalized with a Falkenstein 3-pointer.
A Moore 3-point bucket then extended Jeffersonville’s lead to 12-4 after the Generals’ seventh turnover of the opening period. A 10-2 run, spearheaded by consecutive 3-pointers by Gallahar, then sealed the 22-6 score after the first quarter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Red Devils in the opening half, though. The hosts coughed the ball up seven times in the second quarter, spurring a 10-0 run by Wayne. Jeffersonville held a 29-22 lead with 1:25 left in the half before a quick 5-0 spurt extended the Red Devils’ lead at the break.
“I thought we got off to a great start,” Luce said. “And when they settled in, they’re a great ball club. They’re going to do their thing, and that’s compete. … I thought it was a very good win for us, because we held off a bunch of kids that were passionate about coming here and playing.”
The Generals’ momentum carried over to the second half, as a 5-0 answer brought the visitors back within seven points of the Red Devils early in the third. A pair of free throws and a strong take by Wayne’s DeAnte Causey made it a four-point game before Falkenstein converted a bucket as the third-quarter buzzer sounded. The Red Devils shot 3-for-10 in the third but led 43-37 entering the fourth.
Jeffersonville upped its lead back to 10 on three separate occasions in the fourth period, but Wayne didn’t back down. A 3-pointer cut the Red Devils’ advantage to 57-50 with 1:06 to play, and the Generals inched to within 62-56 with 31.6 left, but Jeffersonville netted 19 of 24 free throws to seal the win down the stretch.
“We want to get to that free-throw line,” Luce said. “But at the same time, we don’t want to necessarily forget that we have to go to the basket. Because you can get on your heels, and that’s when teams lose games. While we’re spreading the floor, we’re still going to go ahead and milk that clock as much as possible. We’re also going to take an uncontested layup.”
Next up for the Red Devils is a Hoosier Hills Conference opener against Seymour at Johnson Arena on Friday. Jeffersonville hasn’t lost to the Owls since 2007. After a bounce-back win Saturday following a loss at Evansville Bosse Friday, Luce said the Red Devils are poised ahead of league play.
“Confidence is definitely something that’s important, and we have that at this moment,” Luce said. “We rebounded well from last night. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue that trend as we get into the next couple of weeks.”
Wayne: 6 – 16 – 15 – 23 – 60
Jeffersonville: 22 – 12 – 9 – 24 – 67
Red Devils (2-1)
Bailey Falkenstein 23p, 6r; Gerrin Moore 12p, 5r; Jacob Jones 2a; Michael Minton 3a, 3r; Joe LaGrange 4p, 2a; Gabe Gallaher 15p; Cameron Northern 8p, 4r; Tre Coleman 5p, 4r
Craig Young 16p, 7r; Kylon Jarreau 18p; Darian Causey 10p; Anthony Phillips 6p, 4r; Demarea Dial 7p; DeAnte Causey 3p