Balanced Vikings win Holiday Classic

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor and Enterprise

NORTHWOOD — Everyone played a big part as Evergreen improved to 9-0 on the season, grabbing a 36-33 win over a very athletic Fostoria team in the semifinal Monday, then shook off a subpar shooting night to knock off McComb 47-37 in the final on Tuesday to capture their fourth straight Northwest Holiday Classic title at Northwood.

The victories pushed Viking coach Jerry Keifer past the 375 victory mark in his career at Evergreen.

In the opener the Vikings used a stellar defensive performance in the first quarter and six Ethan Loeffler points to take an 8-5 lead over the high-scoring Redmen.

Austin Lumbrezer’s second quarter triple at the 3:23 mark gave Evergreen the lead for good at 11-9, and Evan Lumbrezer’s baseline leaner at the buzzer pushed the Vikes up 14-11 at the half.

Eli Keifer’s score off an Evan Lumbrezer steal along with a long triple, and two RJ Shunck buckets kept the Vikings up 23-21 heading into the fourth.

The Vikes took their biggest lead at 31-25 off four buckets and four assists in the fourth.

Loeffler scored off an Evan Lumbrezer feed inside, Keifer got loose deep after a Loeffler steal, Evan Lumbrezer got free on a dish from Brock Hudik and Hudik added one from Austin Lumbrezer on a backcut.

However, the Redmen’s Dion Springer scored seven straight Fostoria points to help forge a 33-33 tie with 28 ticks left.

With Fostoria having a foul to give, they tried to foul Evan Lumbrezer cutting to the basket on an out of bounds play with 5.4 left. But the junior guard rose for a jumper and knocked down a 15-footer and also added the ‘and-one’ after he was knocked to the floor for the game-winner.

Springer’s 16 led all scorers in a game where no Viking hit double figures.

After shooting just 5-17 in the first half with six missed layups, the Vikings went 10-17 in the second part of the game.

That rust shooting the ball hung on the next night against McComb as Evergreen was only 10-23 in the first half but still took a 23-20 lead despite three from long range by the Panthers’ Kaden Sherick.

Shunck’s eight first half points along with Loeffler’s three-point play with 5.6 on the clock in the second kept the Vikings on top.

In the second half the Vikings clamped down, holding the Panthers scoreless for nearly the entire third quarter.

Evan Lumbrezer found Loeffler and Shunck twice for scores and had a steal and score to give Evergreen a 29-20 lead late.

Keifer hadn’t scored the entire game but his two long bombs early in the fourth kept the Vikes’ lead at nine, 36-27, with 6:44 left.

Evan Lumbrezer had yet another steal and score, then Loeffler hit from outside the arc to start a 9-0 run that put the game away.

Shunck got inside for a score, Keifer hit both ends of a one-and-one and Keifer laid one in off Evan Lumbrezer’s ninth steal of the game for a 46-29 lead before Keifer cleared the bench.

A couple of late triples — including one at the buzzer by the Panthers — shortened the final margin.

Shunck’s 12 points led the Vikings. Keifer scored all 11 of his in the fourth.

Evan Lumbrezer also had 11 along with the aforementioned nine steals and seven assists, while Loeffler hit for 10 to put four Vikings in double figures.

Sherick’s four triples accounted for his 12.

Evergreen hosts Edgerton Saturday before beginning league play at Swanton next Thursday.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor and Enterprise

Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]

Reach Joe Blystone at [email protected]