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Valpo falls in sectional semifinal

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Valpo took on the Crown Point Bulldogs in round two of sectionals. They matched up earlier in the season, and the Bulldogs came home with the win, 58-55. 


Crown Point jumped out to an early six-point lead in the first after a few missed shots by the Vikings. Valpo had a few possessions in a row with turnovers that allowed the Bulldogs to maintain their lead. In the last minutes of the quarter, the Vikings went on a three-minute scoring drought before Jack Smiley’s pull-up midrange was good with under 10 seconds left. Crown Point had the lead 13-9 heading into the second quarter. 


In the second quarter, the Vikings stayed mostly inside the three-point arc, getting most of their buckets within the painted area. With two minutes left, a three-point basket by KJ Avery gave Valpo the first lead of the quarter. Both sides were trading buckets in the late stages of the first half; the Vikings went into halftime down by three, 27-24. 


The third quarter showed more alternating baskets and back-and-forth play that kept the score close. A three-pointer by Smiley gave the Vikings a 34-31 lead and forced the Bulldogs to call a timeout. Crown Point then hit a couple of shots that forced Valpo to call a timeout. 36-34, the Bulldogs lead. A steal by Valpo’s Phillip Amones helped him get a bucket late and move the deficit to within four. The Bulldogs still had the lead going into the last quarter, 42-38. 


The Bulldogs maintained a lead throughout most of the quarter. With three minutes left, a three by Kimes made it only a two-point game, with Crown Point still leading 47-45. Smiley went 1/2 at the line with 1:30 left on the clock, the Vikings down 50-47. Valpo forced a jump ball with under a minute left, down three, and got the ball back. A missed layup by Caden Crowell allowed the Bulldogs to get the ball back and increase their lead to five. A jumper by Avery made it only a three-point game with 17 seconds left. The Vikings were able to force a turnover and retain possession only by three. A pass down into the paint that was fumbled by Alec Platipodis led to a turnover with four seconds left. Valpo ended up losing the game 55-51. 


Smiley finished the game with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. KJ Avery had eight points, and Phillip Amones had seven points and six rebounds. Coach Lieske finished his first year as head coach with an impressive 19-7 record and led the team to a share of the DAC title. With four seniors leaving the team this year, they will return the majority of their team for the upcoming years and plan to make a further run in the playoffs. 

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