By Dave Pearce
It seems as if the North Posey Vikings simply can’t catch a break. But sometimes, when you can’t catch a break, you have to create your own. None of the Vikings were able to do that in the opening round of the Graber Post Tournament on Friday as they fell to 7-1 Orleans by a score of 61-56.
“For the most part, it was just a back-and-forth ballgame,” North Posey Coach Heath Howington explained of the tournament’s opener for the Vikings. “But they hit a shot at the end of the quarter and then hit another shot at the end of the third quarter.”
Shots at the ends of quarters seem to have been a problem for this young group of Vikings at this point in the season as several teams have held onto the ball for one shot at the end of a period. The defense has played reasonably well only to have the opponent have someone step up and make the big shot to put the Vikings in a hole, another problem for this year’s team.
“Those shots to end the quarters were crucial in a game this close,” Howington said. “But another key thing was the fact that we were 13-of-23 from the free throw line and they were 28-of-34. They shot 82 percent from the line and you have to give them a lot of credit. They stepped up and made shots. We felt like we were just a few free throws away.”
Howington said his team had a lapse a couple of times in the contest, particularly in the third quarter when they fell behind by 10 points.
“We kept fighting back and were forced to foul and they made us pay for it,” Howington said. “We just had a hard time keeping them in front of us.”
Orleans is a balanced and guard-oriented team, starting four guards. It seemed that if the Vikings could clog up the inside, the team would find a way to score from the outside. And with four shooting guards on the floor, defense was of the essence. And there were times the Vikings may not have given the effort necessary to stay with their man for the duration of the possession.
“Their four guards all average in double digits and one of them had 21 and another had 18,” the coach said. “We contained the other two for the most part but 28 of their 61 points came from the free throw line. It was kind of the story of the night.”
Another circumstance, besides the fact the Vikings were playing in a tournament two hours away from home, was the fact that there were very few people in the stands for the game at 1:30 in the afternoon. So any energy had to be self-generated.
Kyle Whitmore stepped up with 14 points while Alec Werry had 12 and Wes Harness finished with eight.
“We escaped in the first half as Harness, Cody Ungetheim, and Whitmore all picked up two fouls in the first half and we got a good effort from our bench in (Michael) Bender, (Reed) Gertiesen, and (Tyler) Adkins,” Howington said. “We had a little in the third quarter again. Then we were forced to scramble to try and get back in it. I thought we had good looks at shots from guys that we want taking those shots. I guess it really just came down to the defensive end and keeping people in front of us.”
Although Howington thought his team played hard, there were times when he felt they might have been outhustled.
At press time, Howington and his assistants were watching the Clay City-North Davies basketball game to see who the Vikings would play on Saturday. The Vikings will take on the loser of that game in the consolation bracket.
“We are looking at this a little bit like the sectional,” Howington said. “You have to win three games to win the sectional. The good thing about this is we still have an opportunity to come out of this tournament with a winning record and continue to improve.”
The team was scheduled to play at 2 p.m. on Saturday and then play their final game on Monday. The early deadlines for the New Year’s Holiday made it impossible to get the other games in this week’s edition.
By Dave Pearce
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