If you plan on being in a hunt for a league title, you better get big plays from more than a couple of people and you better win tough games on the road.
Evergreen got big plays from many, the last of which being two free throws with 2.4 seconds on the clock from Mason Loeffler, to take down Wauseon 59-57 at their place Friday night. This enabled the Vikings to stay in a tie for first place in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League with Archbold, as both teams hold 5-0 records in league play.
The Vikings followed that win up with a 66-40 victory at Fayette Saturday to run their record to 17-1 on the year. Wauseon sits at 13-6 and 3-2 in the NWOAL.
“This is a big win and it sets us up for a huge night at home next week with Archbold, who is the league favorite coming in,” said Viking mentor Jerry Keifer after the Wauseon game.
Jack Etue gave Evergreen a boost early against the Indians, as his triple from the left corner gave the Vikings a lead they never lost at 6-4 with 6:14 left in the first.
The senior guard then scored off a steal and dish from Evan Lumbrezer to double the lead 22 seconds later.
“I thought Jack got us going early when we had everyone at some point getting involved,” explained Keifer.
Loeffler’s triple halfway through the first pushed the Vikes lead to five but a score by Connar Penrod, then a pair from the foul stripe by Sean Brock got Wauseon back to a one point deficit.
That was when Lumbrezer fired up a step-back 30-footer at the horn that hit off glass, the rim, then off glass again before falling through to give Evergreen a 15-11 lead.
“That was ugly,” Keifer joked. “I thought it was ugly the minute it left his hand and it turned into something really good.”
Jonas Tester’s floater then his two free throws, knotted the score the first of 10 times on the night at 17-17 with 5:24 to go in the half.
However, Loeffler broke that tie with a slam between Brock and Penrod to regain a Viking lead.
Isaac Wilson’s putback tied the score again, and it would stay tied each possession as Nate Brighton’s three-point play and score inside, were countered by Noah Tester’s triple and floater.
Loeffler finally broke the series of five straight scoring knots with a triple that Etue followed with a pair from the stripe for a 31-26 Viking lead at the break.
Etue’s putback 12 seconds into the third gave Evergreen their largest lead on the night at 33-26, but Noah Tester hit twice more from long range to bring Wauseon even again, 36-36, with 5:00 to go.
After another deadlock at 38-38, Brighton’s third-chance stickback and Etue’s long bomb from the left wing helped give the Vikings a 43-40 lead heading into the fourth.
Penrod’s steal and score with 6:45 left in the game again got the Indians even at 44-44; however, it took just 25 seconds for Loeffler to break the tie with a long one from the right side.
After Brock got inside to slice the lead to 47-46, Lumbrezer found Loeffler for a second slam that turned into a three-point play and a four point Evergreen lead.
Ethan Loeffler drew a charge from Brock to give the ball back to the Vikings and Brighton’s one-and-one bonus from the line got Evergreen back up to a five point margin at 53-48 with 3:51 left.
Tester’s fourth three-pointer got the lead down to 53-51 and with Evergreen clinging to a 55-54 lead with 1:33 on the clock, Penrod stepped to the line with a chance to give Wauseon their first lead since 4-3.
However, the junior forward could only get a split and a tie at 55-55.
Wauseon grabbed a chance when Loeffler’s dump to Brighton inside went in too hot and the Indians took over with just over a minute left.
With just over 40 ticks left, Lumbrezer pickpocketed Tester near midcourt and after Etue gave him a return pass to the rim, the sophomore guard drew a foul and stepped to the line with a chance to give Evergreen the lead.
Lumbrezer canned both for a 57-55 advantage, but Brock’s putback with 12 seconds to go deadlocked the game one last time.
After the Vikings advanced the ball to midcourt, they had 7.4 left with a shot to win.
Moving the ball right to left, Lumbrezer found Loeffler cutting to the rim, drawing a foul on the layup attempt and putting the high-scoring Viking senior guard at the stripe.
Neither shot hit anything but the bottom of the net, and Wauseon’s last chance heave was wide.
“That last play is something we have run a lot,” said Keifer. “We have been successful with it. It was something we really didn’t need a timeout for.”
For the game, Wauseon forced 12 turnovers while committing just nine, and were even with Evergreen on the boards at 21 each.
However, Evergreen won the game by hitting 15-for-19 from the foul line, including 11-for-14 in the fourth quarter.
Evergreen hit 18 of 35 from the floor. Wauseon was 23 of 47.
Loeffler led all scorers with 19 points. Brighton added 17 and nine rebounds, while Etue had 12.
Brock led Wauseon with 16, Noah Tester had 14 including 12 from outside the arc, and Penrod had 12.
Evergreen followed that up with a first half burst at Fayette that gave the Vikings as much as a 21-point first half lead.
Loeffler’s two first quarter bombs and another from CJ Hauk gave the Vikings an 18-9 lead.
That lead grew to 35-14 as Etue hit three second quarter triples and Ethan Loeffler asserted himself inside for a putback and two more from the line with his work on the offensive glass.
Two more Mason Loeffler three-balls and Shane Ruetz’ fast break bucket inflated the Viking lead to 54-30 as the Vikings coasted in from that point.
Mason Loeffler had 24 points – going 8-for-10 from the floor – to lead Evergreen. Brighton added 16 and snared 17 rebounds.
Noah Brinegar had 11 for the Eagles.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com