TOLEDO – Nearly all year long the Evergreen Vikings have put close games away late by hitting nearly 75 percent from the foul line as a team, including a 15-18 performance against Swanton in the Division III sectional final.
That percentage went south in the Toledo district semifinal against undefeated Genoa.
The Vikings played basically even against the third-ranked Comets except in one area, the foul line.
While the Comets were hitting 11-12, the Vikings were just 7-15 and fell to Genoa 47-37.
“I think the key was in the second half,” said Viking coach Jerry Keifer. “When they scored in the second half, we would come right back and go to the basket and get fouled and go to the line. The bottom line is we didn’t make free throws and they were able to extend the lead instead of us staying within a 2-4 point game.”
After Chandler Lumbrezer scored the first points of the game on 2-2 from the stripe, the Vikings were scoreless until Bryce Hudik’s floater with 3.2 on the clock in the first.
In between the Vikes were 0-5, many in close, while Genoa countered with buckets from Nate Lewis, Jake Bradfield and Joe Dominique to help the Comets to a 8-4 lead.
Caleb Mcgeorge scored off his own miss to extend the lead to 10-4 but the Vikes came right back with an 11-0 run.
Lumbrezer scored in tight, Mason Loeffler put back a Viking miss, Nate Brighton stuck a triple and scored off a miss in transition before Nic Borjevoich capped the run with a drive through the key for a 15-10 Evergreen lead with 3:00 left in the half.
However the Vikes went cold from the field and then the foul line.
Genoa’s leading scorer, Jake Plantz, got his first points of the night on a three-point play and then a shot from the key.
Andrew Bench also got inside to put Genoa back up 17-15 with a minute left in the half for a two point Comet lead at intermission.
“The first half to be honest we struggled with their physicality,” explained Keifer. “We missed some easy ones that we would normally make.”
Loeffler’s spin move, Brighton’s offensive rebound bucket and finally Loeffler’s right wing triple brought the Vikes into a 22-22 tie with 5:00 left in the third.
While Plantz scored eight straight Comet points, Evergreen got to the rim and the foul line.
However Evergreen shot a combined 2-6 in three shooting foul chances and Genoa took a 30-24 lead into the fourth.
Hudik nailed a long triple, but Plantz countered to keep the lead at 33-27.
Borojevich scored the next four to get Evergreen back to 35-31, but Bench got inside twice to double the Comet lead to 39-31 late and the Comets put the game away at the foul line.
Genoa was 17-36 from the floor while Evergreen was 13-32.
“I thought we defended very well,” said Keifer. “I thought we got great looks offensively.
“Our effort was great. Our effort has been great all year long.
“I’m very proud of the seniors Chandler, Bryce and Zack Lumbrezer. I’m proud of all of our guys, they came to work everyday and worked hard.”
The Vikings got off just eight three-point attempts on the night, hitting four.
Genoa held a 21-19 edge on the glass.
Plantz had 16 points and Bench 14 for Genoa.
Brighton and Loeffler each had 10 for Evergreen, who finishes at 20-5.
“A 20 win season is still a 20 win season. It’s the third in school history and they are in an elite group,” Keifer said. “We are disappointed because we wanted a chance to move on but we are excited about what is next up.”
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org