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Even coaches can learn lessons tooPosted Tuesday, January 20, 2009, at 10:04 PM
White River Valley girls basketball coach Joe Pigg is one of the straightest shooters I've ever met in this business. He never backs away from the truth, never makes excuses and always tells it like it is. He is willing to admit when he makes a mistake, an admirable quality.
So 24 hours after a heartbreaking 73-71 loss to Mitchell, I had the pleasure to talk with Pigg, who like any smart man was trying to learn lessons from a last-second loss to Lady Jackets.
But as he replayed the final three seconds over in his mind, he still took the time to appreciate what the winners had accomplished.
"I was really impressed with the way they played," Pigg said of Mitchell. "They are well coached and really play well together. They are not 10-3 for nothing. They are a very good team.
"You can just tell they don't care who scores the points. They just want to win. Their whole bench just erupted after (Natalie) Morse hit that shot. It was just a great game. I even clapped for them after they won it."
The shot he was talking about was a 35-footer at the buzzer by Morse, which erased a 71-70 WRV lead and gave the Jackets their 10th victory in 13 games. Morse's seventh 3-pointer, as part of a game-best 34-point performance, handed the Lady Wolverines just their second loss in 15 games.
"Morse is really tough," said Pigg. "I believe she already has signed to play Division I somewhere.
"They executed the play perfectly and Morse hit a pretty shot. It was a very difficult shot."
WRV, who is still ranked No. 4 in the latest Class A poll, appeared to be on their way to winning when Stephanie Fougerousse's three-point play put the Lady Wolverines by one point with three seconds remaining.
"We did a good job of breaking their press and got the ball to Steph," said Pigg. "She powered her way to the basket. It was a legitimate three-point play."
Fougerousse finished with 33 points and 22 rebounds.
"It was the best game I have every seen Steph play. She really played hard at both ends of the floor.
"It is not very often that you get to see a player put up a 30-20 game. In fact, I have never seen a boys or girls player do it before. It was pretty special."
Pigg said that if given the chance to defend a potential game-winning possession again, he would probably do it differently.
"We decided to not guard the in-bounds pass," said Pigg. "And they were still able to get the ball to Morse off of a screen at the foul line. "She had time for a couple of dribbles and let it fly.
"I made a little notation in my coach's notebook about how to defense that situation differently. I am not perfect by any means. Coaches don't know everything. We can still learn things too. I know I did Saturday night."
Pigg said it is ironic that they practice last-second shots.
"We had a drill where we have three seconds and have to in-bounds from the far end court," said Pigg. "Everybody gets a chance to shoot the ball.
"It is kind of funny that we would get beat on a play that we practice regularly."
Pigg said that Mitchell coach Frank Decker also sent some kudos their way.
"He told me that our team was one of the best they had played this year," said Pigg. "It was a nice compliment for the girls."
Pigg said that his team really cares and he had first-hand evidence of that Saturday night.
"Four or five of my kids were crying or were mad after the game," he said. "That told me that they really care.
"And that is a very good thing."
Pigg was not happy about losing a 14-point lead in the second half. They were still ahead 52-44 going to the fourth quarter.
"We had 12 turnovers in the second half and that was really the difference in the ball game," said Pigg. "We just did not do a good job of taking care of the basketball."
Pigg wanted to thank the fans that came out in support of WRV and hopes they weren't too disappointed with the outcome.
"It was a fun game for everyone involved and the fans as well," said Pigg. "I can't thank them enough for their support.
"But as fun as it was, it was still a heartbreaker."
Pigg said to play a bigger school, a good team and having the chance to play in a close game late can only help them down the road in the Class A state tournament.
Joe Pigg, the girls basketball coach at White River Valley, said he could not believe they gave up 73 points, even to a good basketball team, in a two-point loss to Mitchell Saturday.
He said he did not believe that even Center Grove scored that many points against the Lady Wolverines at the Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle during the 2000-01 season.
He was right, the Class 4A Lady Trojans beat WRV 61-33. That was just one of six losses for the Lady Wolverines that season as they won 22 times and was Class A state runner-up.
But Pigg's teams, who are giving up 42.4 points per game this season and have never allowed more than 48 per contest over the past nine seasons, have allowed 70 or more on several occasions.
Owen Valley beat WRV a year ago, 70-57. The year before that, the Lady Patriots defeated the Lady Wolverines 75-42. Owen Valley topped WRV 69-44 during in 2000-01.
White River Valley defeated North Daviess 77-73 in two overtimes in December 2006.
During a 6-16 2004-05 season, Sullivan defeated WRV 77-49 on Dec. 4. Three days later, Washington topped Pigg's team 87-39.
During 2005-06 when WRV won just eight of 24 games, Sullivan beat the Lady Wolverines 69-37 in December.
In Feb. 2003 at the regional, the Lady Wolverines lost to Morristown 71-49.
But these few examples are the exception rather than the rule at WRV, where you defend or you take a seat next to coach Pigg.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 240-1993 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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