This time there was no fourth quarter miracle, although Evergreen had to withstand a furious late rally by Patrick Henry to beat the Patriots, 63-57, at home Tuesday.
The win makes the Vikings 5-0 in the NWOAL and in a first place tie with Ohio’s top-ranked boys team in Division II, Wauseon.
Evergreen overcame an early 5-4 deficit with a rapid-fire 11-0 blitz in just over two minutes in the first quarter.
Bryce Hudik knocked down a triple from the left wing, then hit another from the top of the key to give the Vikings a lead they never lost.
Then it was Hudik’s steal and feed to Mason Loeffler for a score before Loeffler followed up his first hoop with a three-point play to give Evergreen a 15-5 lead.
Patrick Henry got within three, 15-12, early in the second quarter on Garrett Schweibert’s putback, but Loeffler went coast-to-coast off a rebound for another three-point play and Hudik stuck a foul line jumper to give Evergreen a 20-12 spread with 4:49 left in the half.
After another Schweibert hoop inside, Chandler Lumbrezer curled through the key for a score, and Josh Dowling’s drive turned three-point play gave the Vikings a 25-14 lead, before taking a 27-18 lead into the locker at halftime.
Loeffler’s three third quarter baskets, and two more from Nate Brighton that included a putback from the middle of the key at the third quarter buzzer kept the Vikings’ lead at double figures, 43-33, heading into the fourth.
Brighton’s three-point play and Lumbrezer’s bucket from Loeffler on the press-breaker put Evergreen up 48-35 with 6:05 left.
Then came a wild ride the last six minutes that included the Patriots forcing some uncharacteristic Evergreen turnovers to cut into the lead.
Kaiden McGraw’s long triple started the comeback and four more points from Christian Peterson got PH within 52-44.
The key play of the game came with the score at 53-45, when Dowling was fouled on a rebound and the Patriot bench became a little overexuberant with the call and was banged with a technical foul.
Dowling hit the first two from the line, then Loeffler added two more and on the ensuing possession, and Dowling knocked in one of two to regain a 13-point lead.
That sequence became huge when three straight Evergreen turnovers on sloppy passes led to three Patriot buckets by McGraw, Xavier Wensink and Kolton Holloway to draw PH within 59-54 before Loeffler and Dowling regained order by closing out the game going four for four at the line.
Evergreen went 16 for 21 from the line in the fourth as the Patriots were forced to foul, and was 21 of 27 for the game.
Loeffler led all scorers with 23 points, including 11 of 12 from the stripe. Hudik added 12 on 5 of 5 shooting from the floor, along with nine rebounds. Dowling chipped in with 11.
Peterson led Patrick Henry with 17.
For the game from the floor, Evergreen was 20 of 40 while the Patriots were 21 for 55.
Evergreen led in rebounds, 33-26.
The win sets up a showdown for first place in the NWOAL Friday night between the 19-0 Wauseon Indians and the Vikings who have rebounded from a 1-5 start, and are now 11-8.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org
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