Tick, tick, tick, tick..
With the weapons the Evergreen Vikings have no one ever knows when one of them will all of the sudden go boom.
That explosion came in the form of Eden Eisel who scored 11 of her game high points in a 16-4 third quarter that propelled Evergreen to a 54-47 NWOAL win over Delta, pushing the Vikes to 2-0 in the league and 4-0 overall.
“Probably the best third quarter we played this year,” stated Viking coach John Langenderfer. “Offensively and defensively it was definitely our best.”
Becca Jankowiak’s three-point play with a minute left in the first period gave the Vikings a 17-11 first quarter lead, and that lead grew to 25-17 on Alyssa Noe’s fastbreak hoop with 2:42 left in the half.
However, the Panthers fought back into the game on Jenni Davis’ putback, a runner from Abby Freeman and Morgan Mattimore’s drive in the key to get within 27-23.
Haili Mossing hit three of her 12 first half points from way outside the triple line with 34 seconds left before the break to bump the Vikes up seven, but Freeman answered with a deuce from the right corner 24 seconds later to keep Delta in striking distance at 30-25 at halftime.
“I thought we were still in good position going into the locker room,” explained Delta coach Ryan Ripke. “We had answered every run they had pretty much in the first half, but then they had one more.”
Tick, tick, tick, tick – boom!
Just that quick the bomb went off.
Rachael Noe lit the fuse with a long range triple to start the third, and after Maddie Mattimore scored in the key for the Panthers, Eisel went off.
The 5’9” senior scored on a drive, and after Morgan Mattimore scored the last Delta basket of the quarter at the 4:54 mark, Eisel split a pair from the line, she then got a fastbreak layup on a pass from Rachael Noe, and scored on another drive before Rachael Noe got a layup to run the Viking lead to 42-29.
Eisel followed that score with a hoop off the offensive glass, then drilled a baseline jumper at the buzzer to give Evergreen a 46-29 lead heading in the fourth.
“Eden might be the most improved player in the league,” said Ripke. “She was good last year, but she has really improved. I just can’t say enough about her. She does everything, she can hit the three, she penetrates, she rebounds exceptionally well, she works really hard when she’s on the floor in every aspect.”
I thought we lost our poise a little in the third quarter. We all had a bad quarter including me. There were some changes we needed to make in the third quarter and we didn’t make them. We had some unforced turnovers and settled for jumpers and against a good team like Evergreen you can’t have a bad quarter because they will make you pay.”
“She had a heck of a game, a heck of a game,” said Langenderfer said of Eisel.
Morgan Mattimore fueled a fourth quarter rally by scoring on a pair of drives, one that turned into a three-point play, to get Delta within 49-40 with 3:07 to go.
“She is one of the best athletes in the league,” said Langenderfer. “She’s tough to defend, she can get to the basket, she can hit the three. It was no surprise that she took control for them in that situation.”
Alyssa Noe kept Delta at bay the rest of the way, hitting 4 of 6 from the foul line in the last two minutes before the Mattimore sisters each hit a hoop in the last 30 seconds to cut into an 11 point lead.
The win keeps Evergreen at the top of the NWOAL standings at 2-0, but Langenderfer says they have a long way to go yet.
“We have a big one against Patrick Henry there this Friday and in this league there are no easy games.”
Eisel led three Vikings in double figures with 19, while Mossing had 12 and Alyssa Noe 11.
Morgan Mattimore led all scorers with 21. Freeman chipped in with 10.
Joe Blystone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org