Waterloo knocks off Springfield to take league lead

Sports
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Basketball season is really starting to heat up as a battle between league leaders in the MVAC witnessed the Waterloo Vikings pulling away in the final quarter to capture a 60-49 win over Springfield.  With the victory, the Vikings take the league lead with a 7-0 mark, 9-1 overall on the season.  The Tigers drop to 6-1 in the league while suffering their first loss on the season in eleven games.

“We talked this week that this is like two games for us,” Vikings coach Jason Wise remarked of the victory.  “We played the contenders on the road, McDonald, Lowellville, and Springfield so this is a big game for us coming over here.  I don’t want to say it gave us a two-game lead, but everybody has to come to our place now.  So it feels like it was kind of two games for us.”

“It’s huge.  We have been preparing all week,” Vikings junior guard Caleb Francis said.  “We knew we were both undefeated coming in and we knew to get a big win on the road here.  They have to come to our place to beat us to stay contenders.  We want to be on the top.”

You’re always disappointed when you lose, but we’re not going to sit and sulk,” Tigers coach Steve French remarked on the loss.  “We’ll get right back to work as it’s a long season.  We’re not even halfway through, we’re just getting started.”

 With the Tigers holding a slim three-point lead 42-39, at the end of three-quarters of play, the Vikings exploded on an 11-0 run to start the final frame of play and outscored the Tigers 21-7 in the period.  The combination of the Vikings defense forcing five late turnovers, and the Tigers shooting just 2 of 11 from the field in the quarter helped carry the Vikings to victory.

“Our length bothers teams.  We have two 6’7 kids that are really athletic,” Wise described his squad’s advantage.  “It just makes it tough on shooters because we can switch screens, stay out on you and make you take contested shots.  We did a really good job of that in the fourth quarter of contesting every shot and giving them open looks.”

“We were very active on defense,” Francis explained.  “We are very lengthy in getting into the passing lanes.  We still have to rebound better as they had a lot of offensive rebounds but overall it was a good performance.”

“First half we had a lot going for us.  We got some lucky breaks, a couple of calls and the shots were falling,” French described the half.  “Second half, the shots weren’t falling, we didn’t get the calls and the breaks, and that was the difference there.”

Both teams seemed a bit cautious in the first quarter as they tried to test each other out.  The Vikings held a 12-10 lead at the end of the first frame and pushed their advantage to 18-10 early in the second period on the way to the two teams combining to score 41 points in the quarter.  The Tigers would lead by as much as five at 23-18 when Clay Medvec converted a steal into a layup midway through the stanza.  The two teams would trade the lead twice more before halftime as the Tigers led 32-31.

“We played really good defense to start the second quarter,” Wise stated.  “Then we kind of went back into what we have done all year.  We had lapses where we allowed them some open looks and let them back into the game instead of extending our lead.  And with the way they (Springfield) shoot it, I don’t know if there is ever a lead that is safe.  They can flat out shoot.”

It appeared that the Tigers might pull away in the second half as they quickly went on a 6-0 run to hold a 7-point, 38-31 lead.  But the Vikings responded with an 8-4 run to close the period, trailing 42-39 at the end of the third quarter.  That would set up the Vikings fourth-quarter run to pull away and capture the victory.

The Vikings were led by Francis with 19 points and 9 rebounds.  He would collect 9 of those 19 points in the critical fourth period, including a perfect 5 of 5 from the charity stripe.  Vaughn Dorsey would add 14 points and 7 caroms while Max Adelman added 13 points and 9 rebounds.

The Tigers junior guard Drew Clark was top scorer with 17 points in the game, including 5 three-pointers.  Shane Eynon would add 10 points and 7 rebounds while both Evan Ohlin and Clay Medvec scored 9.

The Vikings will return to action next Friday when they will host the McDonald Blue Devils.  The Tigers will also have a week off as they host Jackson-Milton next Friday.

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