Message to Evergreen Viking basketball fans who stayed home to make sure they saw opening kickoff of an overhyped football game that turned out to be a dud.
You missed a better and more exciting performance from your basketball team.
The Vikings followed up a 53 percent shooting night in a semifinal win over Fostoria, with 57 percent from the floor and a whopping 19 assists on 24 field goals to slam Montpelier 72-44 in the title game of the Northwest Ohio Holiday Classic held at Evergreen Friday.
“We’re very happy with the whole week,” Viking coach Jerry Keifer said after. “We had balanced scoring, we shared the basketball extremely well. You feel like going into the new year that we have kind of figured out how to play in a different style than what we were last year. We are a man-to-man team, we are up in people’s faces and we are running a new offense that we haven’t run before. Hopefully this is a sign that we are gelling and we are ready to make some noise.”
Montpelier actually jumped out to a 9-4 lead midway through the first quarter on a pair of hoops from Evan Friend and three points from Kolden Uribes before that aforementioned Viking defense, mostly in the form of Chandler Lumbrezer, got the Vikings rolling.
The lanky junior had a pair of steals near midcourt, the first he fed Josh Dowling for what turned into a three-point play, and second he took solo to the rim to tie the game.
Bryce Hudik put Evergreen ahead for good with a long three-ball, then fed Nate Brighton cutting down the key for a score to cap a quarter ending 10-0 run, making it a 14-9 Viking lead.
Uribes’ back-to-back buckets broke a seven minute scoring drought to keep the Locos close at 17-13 before like a lightning bolt, Evergreen hit another scoring burst to open up the lead.
Hudik and Lumbrezer combined for the next five buckets, three of them from behind the arc, during a 13-2 quarter-ending salvo to allow the Vikes to double up the score at 30-15 at the break.
Evergreen shot 12 of 23 in the first half and forced 12 Loco turnovers, but would get even hotter in the second 16 minutes.
Uribes, Friend and Jacob Bailey combined for 13 points in the first four minutes of the second half, going 6 of 8 from the floor, but John Machacek’s pair of drive-and-dish hoops to Brighton, one of them a triple, helped the Vikings ward off the Loco run.
Then it was Etue who accounted for the next 14 Viking points, hitting four straight triples and dropping a dish to Nick Beemer for another bucket as Evergreen closed the third on a 14-2 run to go up 51-30 heading into the fourth.
Evergreen shot a smoking 12 for 19 in the second half with six triples and forced a total of 21 turnovers for the game.
Lumbrezer had six steals on the night, including picking Uribes three times that led to scores.
“I think a lot of that has to do with Coach (Bruce) Smith,” said Keifer regarding the turnover number. “He has the defense and he’s kind of a hardnosed guy and he is trying to instill that into our kids and I think tonight was an indication that some of that is getting into them.”
The Vikings put four in double figures scoring wise.
Etue had 18 points, Hudik 14, Lumbrezer 12 and Brighton 11.
Uribes led all scorers with 22 points.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org