The Viking girls and boys basketball teams had a busy vacation break hosting strong LaConner Braves’ teams Friday, Jan. 4 in what were expected to be tough games and the Lopez Island Lobos the following day in a competitive island rivalry.
Expectations prevailed as the girls lost a close game while the boys endured their toughest loss of the season against LaConner but rebounded with a pair of Viking wins against the Lobos.
The Vikings girls (3-3) kept it close with the (9-2) Braves, down 12 to 7 in the first quarter and 19 to 27 at half. Outscoring the Braves 13 to 8 in the third quarter, the Vikings started the fourth quarter down only 35-32 after some key halftime adjustments by Coach Gregg Sasan.
As the fourth quarter dwindled, the Vikings made a run but ultimately could not out-shoot the Braves, losing 47-41.
“It came down to a couple easy baskets we missed,” Sasan said. “I am very proud of the how the girls played, especially how they stepped up their defense.”
Scoring for the Vikings was lead by Shelbi Rogers with 17 points, Bella Nigretto 10, Alicia Susol 5, Lana Bronn 4, Hanna Brunner-Gaydos 3 and Aliviah Garcia 2.
Facing the (11-1) Braves, Vikings (3-3) boys’ coach Rich Madden stuck to his guns and started a squad with JV and non-starters who had made the required practices during the holiday break. Madden, with varsity starters still on vacation, decided he would turn this challenge “into a learning experience for the team.”
Down 34-9 after the first quarter and 58-21 by halftime, Madden, who expected a blowout, was pleased that his green starters got “some experience on the main court.” He was especially pleased with his starters, who “despite a blowout, never gave up.”
After a final score of 102 to 38, the learning experience ended with Jack Gates leading the scoring with 26 points, Chase Drake 7 and Jake Zier 4.
The Lobo girls (5-6) hit the court fast stepping as much at 10 points ahead by the second quarter. With a minute left in the third quarter the Vikings (4-3) nudged ahead 31-30 but ended the quarter a point down.
The Vikings took the lead 38-34 with five minutes left and dominated the remainder of the game.
Rogers, Garcia, Susol and Nigretto unleashed on onslaught of steals, saves, fast breaks and sharp shooting to pull away 43 to 34 with three minutes remaining, ultimately outscoring the Lobos 22-4 in the quarter, winning the game 53 to 36.
“Lopez is a good team but our girls played hard,” Sasan said.
Scoring was lead by Rogers with 19, Susol 12, Nigretto 12, Garcia 7, Hanna Brunner-Gaydos 2 and Emily Jackson 1.
The Lobos boys (4-7) hit shots early and took the lead, but the Vikings (4-3) tied the game at 26 with one minute left in the first half. Leading at half 28-26, the Vikings and the Lobos slid into the third quarter cold, both teams missing most shots and scoring only a combined 12 points, but ending with the Vikings stretching their lead to 37-29.
Jack Gates pushed the ball hard, scoring a game high 23 points, but was benched after a technical foul.
In the fourth quarter the Vikings drew on Jake Zier, Jack Russillo, Rylan Date, Liam Nutt and Chase Drake to take over scoring and combined for 20 fourth quarter points while defensively keeping the Lobos to only 3 points.
Ending with a 57-32 win, Coach Rich Madden said, “We started tired from Friday’s game, but we picked it up and played good team basketball.”
Dominating the rebounds were Date with 18, and Zier 13 while Zier had 20 points, Russillo 6, Drake 4 and Date and Nutt 2 each.
On Friday, Jan. 11, the Viking teams travel to Friday Harbor.