Evergreen stifles Bryan Golden Bears, 58-39


By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor



Suffocate.

Means to cause to feel trapped or oppressed.

For almost the entire first half, Evergreen boys basketball suffocated Bryan defensively, then after a Golden Bear run got them close, the Vikings hit 14 of their last 22 from the floor to blow the game open in a 58-39 NWOAL win Thursday at home.

“Defensively I think we were very well prepared for what they were going to do,” said Vikings’ coach Jerry Keifer. “They wanted to pass and screen away and get a curl, and I thought we did a really good job, especially the first four or five minutes, taking that curl away and they kind of got sluggish on offense. It was a great team effort, we played eight or nine kids and they all played their butts off the way they were supposed to.”

While Evergreen was limiting the Golden Bears to just 2 of 10 from the floor in the first quarter, the Vikings got some quick-fire offense from one of their better defenders.

John Machacek drilled back-to-back triples from the left wing in the first three minutes to jump the Vikings to a 6-0 lead, then Mason Loeffler came off the bench to nail one more from long range to boost the Vikings to a 12-5 lead after eight minutes.

“We missed our first couple shots and had a turnover,” Keifer said. “Then we had a good possession in which John got a shot he should take and hit it, then we came right back down and did the same thing. I’ll bet their scouting report said that he isn’t someone you have to take away and for him to come down and knock those shots down was huge.”

That seven point lead grew to more than double in the second.

Chandler Lumbrezer found Loeffler for a fastbreak hoop, then drilled a triple from the right corner.

Bryce Hudik put in an offensive rebound, then Loeffler hit one from long range and scored again on a Lumbrezer steal and dish to cap a 12-3 run, making it 24-8.

Evan Smith’s long triple and Connor Shirkey’s basket at the buzzer chopped that lead to 24-13 and started a run that continued into the third quarter.

It was all Smith in the first four minutes as Evergreen went cold from the field, missing their first five.

The senior guard hit from the right wing, split a pair at the foul line, then canned a three-ball to get Bryan back to a five-point deficit at 24-19.

At the 3:25 mark, the Vikings had been scoreless for nearly six minutes but that all changed the last 11-plus minutes of the game when they exploded for 34 points.

Nate Brighton started the onslaught with a putback, three-point play.

“We missed a shot, a two-footer we should’ve made,” explained Keifer. “And that’s crushing at that time and then Nate comes out of nowhere and gets an and-one that was huge.

“I think every time they made a run, we always had an answer.”

Smith got two from the foul stripe but it was Loeffler inside, Brighton from Loeffler and then Loeffler again with a slam to make it 33-21 before Austin Dean hit at the buzzer to get Bryan back to ten.

Hudik’s triple to open the fourth gave Evergreen some distance that they continued to extend, running what was seemingly a layup and dunk drill off a number of Bryan turnovers.

Lumbrezer got two more of his game high seven assists, the first to Loeffler, then to Brighton before Josh Dowling returned the favor back on a no-look dish for a layup.

The senior point guard then found Loeffler after a steal for a three-point play, then after another steal for a right-handed tomahawk dunk to close out the Golden Bears.

For the game Evergreen had 19 assists on the 22 field goals scored.

“I think what was almost as exciting as the defensive effort was the way we shared the ball,” stated Keifer. ‘We did that as well as we have in a while. If we can continue to do that I think we can be a very competitive basketball team going forward.”

For the game, Evergreen shot 47 percent from the floor after starting 8 for 26. Bryan was just 15 of 42.

Evergreen had just seven turnovers while forcing 15 for the Golden Bears, including six in the fourth quarter.

Loeffler was the only Viking in double figures with 24 points while Smith was the only double digit scorer for Bryan with 17.

Evergreen disposes of Edon

The Vikings followed up that victory with a nuclear first half explosion at Edon two days later.

The game started innocently enough as Brighton, Hudik, Loeffler and Dowling combined to go 7 for 11 in the first quarter to bump the Vikes up on the Bombers 15-5.

A Dowling triple and a layup and triple by Loeffler made it 23-7, then it happened.

A cheap shot foul on Loeffler driving for a dunk lit the fuse and what followed was a barrage that made the German Blitzkrieg look minor.

Loeffler hit both ends of the flagrant foul, then took it out on the whole town of Edon, hitting three more triples to total 16 straight Viking points.

Hudik meshed a long range bomb from the right wing and two free throws before Loeffler finished his 23-point quarter with his fourth straight three-ball, a layup from Lumbrezer and an alley-oop dunk to give Evergreen a 46-14 lead.

The Viking sophomore scored all 27 of his points in the first half as Keifer subbed liberally in the second half.

Brighton scored 12 and had a game high 13 rebounds, while Hudik hit doubles with 10 and again all in the first half.

The Vikings shot 17 for 27 during the first half salvo, including 8 of 14 behind the arc.

After an early season five game losing streak by a total of 14 points, the Vikings head into a game against Northern Lakes League foe Anthony Wayne tonight before playing at Liberty Center in an NWOAL game Friday, and hosting Pettisville Saturday.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor

Reach Joe Blystone at fcesports@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Joe Blystone at fcesports@aimmediamidwest.com

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