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Valpo falls short at Hammond Central

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In the final game of the regular season, the Vikings traveled to Hammond to take on the Wolves. With Amones and Stokes out for Valpo, Coach Lieske had to find ways to fill those gaps on the defensive end. 


Right off the bat, Hammond Central was all over the guards in the backcourt, pressuring them full court. Valpo was able to fight on the offensive glass in the first and pull down rebounds that gave them second-chance opportunities. The quarter came to a conclusion, and the Vikings had the lead 13–12.


In the second, Valpo was down by as much as seven points. The Wolves continued to stay active on the defensive side of the ball, forcing multiple turnovers as the quarter progressed. By halftime, Hammond Central had the lead over the Vikings, 28-23. 


Valpo came out of the locker room with a new spark, a refound form of energy that accelerated them throughout the third. The Vikings were able to tie the game up at 30 with five minutes left. As the quarter went on, Jack Smiley flipped a switch and turned it into his world. He finished with 16 in the quarter alone and helped get the Vikings back in the lead. Valpo had the lead going into the fourth, 43-35. 


Valpo started off the quarter strong, increasing their lead to 11 with four minutes left. But the tide slowly turned as the Wolves made a comeback. The Vikings went on a three-and-a half-minute scoring drought. Hammond Central was able to capitalize on Valpo’s mistakes and turnovers. They took the lead with two minutes left and never looked back. With under a minute left, the lead was expanded to seven. Valpo tried to make a comeback of their own, but was unsuccessful. Valpo lost their last regular-season game 59-56. 


Smiley led the team with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. KJ Avery was second in scoring with 11 points, and Alec Platipodis also scored eight points. In Coach Lieske’s first year as Valparaiso’s head coach, he finished the regular season 18-6 and 5-2 in conference play. The Vikings now have to turn their heads and look towards a new focus: Sectionals. They play Hobart on Wednesday night in the Trojans gym.

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