If the first two nights of the Evergreen girls basketball season were any indication of what’s to come, then Viking fans better make sure their blood pressure subscriptions are up to date.
Viking coach John Langenderfer’s team got a steal from Rachael Noe with six ticks left on the clock to hold off NBC favorite Otsego, 42-41 on opening night, then three days later the Vikings stopped Archbold in the last 16 seconds to claim a 54-52 win on the road.
“That’s a good win for us to open the season,” explained Langenderfer after the Otsego game. “It wasn’t very pretty offensively but we made plays when we needed and Rachael made a huge one at the end.”
For the first half it was a shooting duel between the Vikings Haili Mossing and Otsego’s 6’0” forward Kim Forshey as each burned the nets for 16 points as the teams were deadlocked at 28 all at the break.
However, in the third quarter, Evergreen went frigid from the field, going only 2 for 15 as Otsego carried a 37-33 lead into the fourth.
“Sometimes the harder you try the worse it gets,” said Langenderfer. “The kids were a little too excited I think, it was the home opener and they had played already and it was our first night.”
Rachael Noe laced a triple a minute into the last stanza to chop the Knight lead to 37-36, while Alyssa Noe nailed two free throws at the 6:17 mark to give Evergreen a one-point lead.
Otsego reclaimed a 40-38 lead when the Vikings’ Eden Eisel took over. The athletic senior wing put the clamps on Forshey, holding her without a shot in the fourth quarter, then scored on a breakaway hoop off a steal to knot the score at 40 with 2:39 left.
After a free throw gave the Knights a 41-40 lead, Eisel struck again, drilling a jumper from the right wing to give Evergreen a 42-41 lead with 1:52 left.
Evergreen had a chance to extend the lead, but Alyssa Noe’s front end of a one-and-one spun out with 39 seconds left, and after an Otsego turnover, Eisel’s bonus attempt rattled in-and-out to give the Knights one last attempt with six seconds left.
However, like a puppy stealing a bone from a big dog, the 5’4” Noe darted in front of the inbounds pass intended for Forshey near the top of the key and dribbled out the clock.
“Six seconds to go it’s anybody’s game,” explained Langenderfer regarding the last play versus Otsego. “We went out of a man-to-man for the last play and Rachael makes a play on a pass that we made them go somewhere they didn’t want to go.”
Mossing scored 19 in all to tie Forshey for game scoring honors. Eisel reached double figures with 13.
Vikes hold off Streaks
At Archbold on Friday, the Blue Streaks used six Viking turnovers in the first quarter to bolt to an 11-2 lead.
Kamryn Hostetler’s steal and score opened the run and Emie Peterson’s fastbreak basket finished it with Kierstyn Repp’s triple along with hoops from Andi Peterson and Wyse in between built the lead at the 1:57 mark of the first.
“This place has been a house of horrors for us over the years, there haven’t been many good moments,” stated Langenderfer. “The kids were so jacked up wanting to play and they just came down doing there own thing and our ball movement was pretty bad the first quarter.”
However, Eisel’s triple and up and under move inside cut the lead to 11-8 before Hostetler bombed a 3-ball off the glass that gave Archbold a 14-8 lead at the quarter break.
Wyse’s jumper from the left baseline gave Archbold their biggest second quarter lead at 22-14 with 2:30 left in the half before Evergreen got on a roll.
Alyssa Noe and Eisel each found Kaela Fauble inside for buckets before Becca Jankowiak dropped a triple and Alyssa Noe went 2 for 2 from the line to slice the Archbold lead to 24-23 with 26.7 left.
Emie Peterson hammered home a triple 14 seconds later to boost the lead back to four, but Rachael Noe beat the buzzer with a three of her own to make it 27-26 at the half.
“We shared the ball a lot better in the second quarter,” said Langenderfer. “Suddenly we hit some shots, a couple of three-balls and get back in the game.”
Wyse hit from the baseline again, Repp hit her third triple of the night, and Andi Peterson hit from the foul line to counter a pair of Alyssa Noe offensive rebound hoops to take a 36-30 lead with 5:30 to go in the third but Evergreen came back and gained control on the boards.
Mossing scored inside, then on a fourth offensive rebound got a put back hoop, then off the defensive glass they found Eisel for a fastbreak basket that tied the game at 36 with 3:08 left in the third.
“We’re still trying to find what we can and what we can’t do,” explained Archbold coach Brian Ziegler. “We’re playing a lot of young girls right now and what we didn’t do very well tonight was rebound. That’s going to be one thing we have to do.”
Andi Peterson’s jumper from the side of the key regained the lead for the Streaks but Alyssa Noe bobbed and weaved her way through the key and to the hoop for a layup to tie the game before Repp ripped her fourth triple of the night with 1:23 remaining to give Archbold a 41-38 lead heading into the last quarter.
Like opening night against Otsego, Eisel took over on opening night in NWOAL play in the fourth.
The 5’8” senior switched to guarding Repp, then scored on a fastbreak pass from Rachael Noe, went 2 of 2 from the line and powered in yet another offensive rebound to give Evergreen a 46-43 lead with 6:12 left.
Wyse went 2 for 2 at the stripe for the Streaks but Evergreen began a parade to the foul line from there.
Mossing went 2 for 2 before Repp scored her only fourth quarter points on a one-hander inside to chop the Viking lead to 48-47.
“Eden Eisel’s defense in the fourth quarter was definitely a key (to) hold Repp down and limiting her touches,” said Langenderfer. “She a shooter and you can’t turn your back to her.”
Fauble split a pair and Wyse countered with a hoop from the right wing to tie the game at 49 with 3:39 left.
Eisel regained the Viking lead, hitting a pair at the line with 2:05 left and Mossing followed with the same at 1:07 before Wyse hit a big time three to get the Streaks within 53-52 with 42 seconds left.
Forced to foul with 16.8 left, the Streaks put Rachael Noe on the line where she hit the first and missed the second, giving Archbold a chance to a tie or win but the Vikings cut off every opportunity and a last second throw wasn’t near the rim.
In that fourth quarter Evergreen went to the line 13 times and hit 10 while not committing a turnover.
“They beat us in two areas that will win a lot of games, and that’s at the free throw line and rebounding,” said Ziegler. You win those two battles on a nightly basis you’re going to win a lot of games.”
“They got to the line 19 times (making 14) to our four and they did a nice job getting a lot of penetration to create that.”
Eisel led all Viking scorers with 15 while Mossing had 12 and Alyssa Noe 11.
Wyse had a game high of 18 for Archbold while Repp had 16.
Joe Blystone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org