By Dave Pearce
This has been the year of much illness in the State of Indiana. The flu has taken its toll on many events, communities, and even sports teams. But it appears the North Posey Vikings are suffering from something that only they can care and it must come from within. That is commonly known as “senioritis.”
The Vikings played their last four games on the road and should be road battled-ready when the square off against South Spencer at the Southridge Sectional this week, but the Vikings are going to have to overcome one adversary…themselves, to be able to accomplish the only real goal they set for themselves this season. That goal was to win the sectional.
“That’s a good thing about the tournament,” Howington said after Friday’s game. “It doesn’t matter how you finished the last few games of the season, the slate is wiped clean. The tournament is up for grabs and the coaching staff is going to continue to put our team in the best possible position to win.”
In a make-up game at Southridge earlier in the week, the Vikings appeared to have possibly righted the ship when they went into Raider country and held a two-point half-time lead.
The Vikings got off to their typical slow start and trailed 17-12 to the 16-3 Raiders. But a strong second quarter showed that the Vikings have the potential to beat any team in the sectional. They outscored the Raiders 16-9 in the second period to take the narrow half-time lead.
But in the second half, the wheels came off for the Vikings, despite trailing by only six points heading into the final period. But the Viking offense sputtered and nearly died completely as it appeared that the Raiders wanted the win worse than the Vikings. They came away with a 61-46 victory.
The scenery was different but the scenario was nearly the same on Friday night as the Vikings fell to the Gibson Southern Titans by a 67-54 count.
North Posey Coach Heath Howington was visibly shaken following the second loss of the week, leaving the Vikings with an 8-13 record overall heading into the sectional. The Vikings finished tied with the Titans in the conference standings, each at 4-4.
“One of the things we talked about just before the game was going out on their senior night and getting them down early…winning the first two minutes,” Howington said. “Obviously, that didn’t happen.”
Just a little over two minutes into the contest, the Vikings were already facing a 9-2 deficit as they fell behind 5-0 before Wes Harness scored on a drive.
“You have to give Gibson Southern credit,” Howington said. “They came out with some fire on senior night. They were led by their seniors. We came out flat at the start. That continues to be a puzzle for the coaching staff.”
The first half was pretty much the Harness show as the 5-foot-10 guard scored 19 of the team’s 31 points. The shooters could not find the range from outside and 6-foot-8 senior Spencer Schmitt put a damper on any ideas the Vikings might have had about going inside.
“We had a hard time keeping them in front of us and judging from our shot chart, the majority of their shots came from inside the paint,” Howington said.
But early on, back-to-back-to-back 3-point baskets by senior guard Brandon Staback put the Vikings in a 22-10 hole and it appeared they might be blown completely out of the Gibson Southern gym.
“We did not communicate well and that was pretty much the story of the ballgame,” Howington said. “He got away from us three times there. That was one of the first things on our scouting report was that he was a great 3-point shooter.”
But a better defensive effort and some aggressive offensive play had the Vikings back to within 35-31 at the half.
Kyle Whitmore hit a three, James Marshall hit a pair of free throws, and Alec Werry found Damon Cardin breaking for the basket on the final shot of the half to narrow the gap.
But the Titans learned some things in the first half, mainly that if they wanted to win, they were going to have to shut down Harness. And they did.
“They made some adjustments at half time and they chased Wes all over the floor,” Howington said. “I thought the third quarter we didn’t adjust to that very well and were stagnant offensively. And our shot selection was not where it needed to be. We only scored eight points in the third quarter.”
But despite a rough third quarter, the game was not out of reach at the end of the third quarter as a 3-pointer by Whitmore pulled the Vikings to within nine at 48-39 heading into the final period.
But the Titans scored the first two points of the final period and the Vikings never got closer than nine points throughout the remainder of the game.
But if there was one play that Howington thought summed up the Viking effort, it was with about five minutes remaining in the game and the 6-foot-8 Schmitt at the free throw line.
He made the first shot and missed the second. But no one blocked out the shooter and he rebounded his own missed free throw and threw down an explosive dunk, much to the delight of the Titan crowd and the Vikings were, for the most part, done.
“Schmitt is one of the most talented players in our conference and he showed that tonight, especially in the second half,” Howington said. “He played like a senior.”
Howington said the Vikings just did not achieve the goals the coaching staff had set for them and therefore, did not find themselves in a position to have a chance to win, especially later in the game.”
“On our scouting report, we had ‘take advantage of transition opportunities,’ ‘have great shot selection,’ ‘get to the free throw line,’ and ‘crash the glass’,” Howington said. “I didn’t think we accomplished those keys. We only got to the free throw line six times.”
N. POSEY (8-12, 4-3 PAC): Adkins 1 0-2 2, Michael Bender 5 0-0 15, Whitmore 2 0-0 5, Wes Harness 2 5-5 12, Werry 1 2-4 4, Marshall 0 0-0 0, Gerteisen 1 1-2 3, Carl 1 0-0 2, Cardin 0 2-3 2. Totals 14 10-16 46.
SOUTHRIDGE (16-3, 8-0): Cody Thompson 5 4-4 14, Reller 1 3-4 5, Moesner 2 0-0 5, Ben Weber 8 0-1 20, Reese 1 1-2 4, O’Bryan 5 0-0 11, Herron 0 0-0 0, Schum 0 0-0 0, J. Steckler 1 0-0 2, H. Steckler 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 8-11 61.
North Posey 12-16-13-5—46
GIBSON SOUTHERN 67,
NORTH POSEY 54
N. POSEY (8-13, 4-4 PAC): Bender 3 0-0 6, Kyle Whitmore 5 0-0 12, Wes Harness 11 0-0 23, Werry 1 0-0 2, Adkins 0 2-2 2, Marshall 0 2-2 2, Motz 0 0-0 0, Martin 1 0-0 2, Gerteisen 1 1-2 3,Brenton 0 0-0 0, Carl 0 0-0 0, Cardin 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 5-6 54.
GIBSON SO.(8-14, 4-4 PAC): Scheller 1 1-3 3, Andrew Ziliak 7 5-7 19, Alex Smith 0 2-2 2, Mason Lankford 4 3-4 11, Spencer Schmitt 7 3-5 18, Silva 1 0-0 3, Brandon Staback 4 0-0 11, Mockobee 0 0-0 0, Murphy 0 0-0 0, McBee 0 0-0 0, McCrary 0 0-0 0, Cruse 0 0-0 0.24 14-21 67.
North Posey 10-21-8-15—54
Gibson South. 22-13-13-19—67
3-Point Goals— North Posey 3 (Whit-
more 2, Harness); Gibson Southern 5 (Sil-
va, Staback 3, Schmitt). Total Fouls— North
Posey 16, Gibson Southern 12. Officials-Jason Senning, Dave Senning, Alan Deskin. JV— Gibson Southern 50-48.