SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Behind the tremendous guard play of junior Kyle Shockley and senior Caleb Francis, the Waterloo Vikings shocked the South Range Raiders 64-46 in a DIII District semi-final at Salem Monday night. With the victory, the Vikings improve to 22-2 on the season while the Raiders end the year with a 16-9 record.
The Vikings will now play Friday night at Salem against the winner of Tuesday’s Columbiana – Springfield contest. Tip-off for the District championship will be at 7:00 PM.
“We played Springfield twice. They got us once and we got them once,” Vikings coach Jason Wise remarked about a possible rematch with their league rival. “They got off to a good start at their place and we were able to get off to a good start at our place and got them.”
“Columbiana is a really good team,” he added. “They have kids who can shoot and they have a big guy. So with both teams, it’s going to be a battle. We don’t have a preference of who we play, just knowing that we are going to be in for a fight no matter what on Friday night.”
The Vikings quickly jumped on the Riders as they raced out to a 10-2 lead and then lead 18-7 by the end of the first quarter. Eli Taylor connected on a three-pointer to start the second quarter for the Raiders to excite the Raider crowd, but the Vikings Kyle Shockley took charge of the game as he gave them a 13-point lead at 25-12 at the 5:18 mark of the period. The Vikings would take a 29-17 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.
“We talked about we needed to get off to a fast start tonight,” Wise said. “We didn’t want the game to get going into the style they like to play which is slow and methodical. They don’t want the score up into the sixties and seventies. We thought if we could get the game going faster it would work into our favor.”
Shockley would score 18 of his game-high 31 points in the first half. The 31 points were a career-high as his previous high was 28 in his freshman season. Teammate Caleb Francis would score 20 as they accounted for 51 of the Vikings 64 points on the night. Max Adelman would lead the Vikings with 10 rebounds while Francis added 8.
The Vikings went on a 9-4 run to start the second half as they built a commanding 38-21 lead at the 3:22 mark of the third quarter. But the Raiders battled back as they went on a 10-5 run to close the period, trailing 43-31 at the end of the stanza.
When the Raiders Jake Gehring connected on a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter, the Raiders had closed to within 9 at 43-34. But the Vikings quickly squashed the Raiders momentum as Vaughn Dorsey hit a basket, followed by a three by Francis to pull them back out to a 14-point advantage. The Vikings would eventually build a game-high 20-point lead with 4:31 remaining in the game before the Raiders closed the game with a 9-7 scoring advantage.
“We probably missed fifteen layups in the game, at least fifteen,” Cullen explained the Raider’s poor shooting in the contest. “Granted, we did okay getting there, but that length sometimes gets you looking out of the corner of your eye. You make layups with your eyes and we weren’t hitting our targets very well.”
“They’re a great team,” senior forward Chris Brooks stated. “They’re well-coached and they have good players. They played better than us and I wish them the best.”
“They’re a really good team,” senior guard Kris Scandy echoed Brooks. “We didn’t come out and play as hard as we wanted to. They took advantage of that, but we didn’t give up.”
The Raiders were led on the night by Scandy with 12 points, including 2 treys, while Eli Taylor came off the bench to score 9 and he also connected on two three’s. Chris Brooks grabbed 6 rebounds while Dante DiGaetano netted 5.
“I just tried to lead by example,” Brooks remarked about his effort this season. “Showing those guys what’s it like playing for coach Cullen. It’s a great program with some great coaches.”
has been a blast. It was a tough schedule this year,” Scandy added. “I’m really
going to miss it.”
Cullen pointed out how special the season has been for the Raiders in closing, “We probably had more signature wins (this year). We beat Springfield, that was a good win. We beat Canton Central, that was a good win. We beat Struthers. Those are all two seeds. We beat LaBrae another two seed. We beat some good teams this year and we played these guys to a three-point game the first time even though you couldn’t tell it tonight.”