Vikings Win OT Thriller against Gary 21st Century
The Vikings won an overtime thriller against Gary 21st Century 68-64 in what was arguably the best game of the season so far.
The flu and cold have hit the Vikings to a point where players are being sent home from practice, and having limited time around each other. The team and coaching staff had to be there for one another and have each other’s back when they weren’t feeling their greatest.
From the tip, 21st Century came out firing from deep, and with a defensive intensity the Vikings have yet to see this early on in the season. Just like that, the Vikings were down 13-0 to a team that seemed like couldn't miss. By the end of the first quarter, it was 25-12 in favor of 21st. Valpo kept chipping away at the score, getting it to within 9 in the second quarter, but eventually losing grasp of the comeback. By halftime it was 40-26, Gary 21st still holding onto the lead.
Eventually, the Cougars cooled down from three and came back to reality, shooting 1/8 from beyond the arc in the third. The Vikings took advantage of this performance from Gary 21st, and decreased the lead to 4 going into the fourth quarter (48-44).
It was a back and forth battle the entirety of the final quarter. It came down to the defense of the Vikings that prevailed in the end and forced multiple turnovers in the late stage of the game. With two minutes left in the normal time limit, Jack Smiley drove into the lane and made a layup that gave the Vikings the lead for the first time in the game. 21st Century takes it down to a minute left and gets fouled, going to the line for two. Misses the first, makes the second and it is now all tied up at 54 with under a minute to go. Smiley misses a contested layup, and the Cougars take it down and make a breakaway layup and retake the lead. Jack Smiley dribbling at the top of the key gets fouled and goes to the line. Makes both, and now ties the game up again. Ten seconds left, 21st decides to hold for the last shot, trying to run a play, there is a moving screen that gives Valpo the ball with .8 left on the clock. Smiley heaves it from half court but it is short. In a game where the Vikings were down by 16, they have now come back and forced overtime.
Trading blows for the whole period, it’s tied with 1:40 left on the clock. Smiley drives into the paint for a pull up jumper and sinks it while getting fouled, the free throw is good and now the Vikings are up by 3. Gary 21st goes down and also gets a bucket while getting fouled, but the free throw is no good. 63-62, Valpo has possession and turns it over, 21st century gets a layup the very next possession. 64-63, Julian Stokes inbounds to Smiley, Smiley crosses half court facing a double team, he sees Caden Crowell wide open in the corner and feeds him the ball. Crowell drills the three with 15 seconds remaining in the game. When Gary 21st tried to inbound the ball right after that, Smiley caught them lacking and got an easy steal turning into a layup. The Vikings ended up winning the game 68-64 in overtime and rallied on each other’s shoulders throughout the whole game.
Jack Smiley had 35 points going 10-17 from the field and 15-18 from the line. He also added 6 assists and 7 rebounds in the win. Caden Crowell added 13 points, and Alec Platipodis had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Valpo is now 4-2 and still have yet to lose at home.