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Valpo wins close contest against LaPorte


The Vikings hosted the LaPorte Slicers in their fourth DAC contest of the year, and it did not disappoint. Valpo’s Jack Smiley came into this matchup needing 29 points to reach the 1,000-point mark. LaPorte came into this game 0-3 in the conference and 8-9 on the season, but they did not go down without a fight.


In the first quarter, the defense of the Vikings held strong, forcing seven turnovers by the Slicers. Smiley scored 11 of the 21 points in the first quarter and was on pace to break the 1,000-point barrier with ease. It was a high-scoring affair after the first; Valpo had the lead over LaPorte 21-16. The Slicers controlled the boards in the second quarter, getting second-chance opportunities that turned into second-chance points. They made a small comeback that cut their deficit to within three going into halftime; Valpo had the lead 31-28.


In the third quarter, the Vikings were able to get to the basket area a lot, scoring most of their points within the painted area. But LaPorte kept fighting back, tying the game with 54 seconds left and eventually taking the lead going into the fourth quarter, 42-39.


With about five minutes left in the game LaPorte went 1-2 at the free throw line and Valpo got the ball back, 51-47. A few possessions later, off of a steal, Smiley was able to get down the floor and convert the layup to tie the game at 53 with three minutes left. Helping him get one step closer to the 1,000-point milestone. LaPorte went down the floor and got fouled, sending them to the line; they went 1-2 and gave them a one-point lead. On the other end of the court, Julian Stokes drove into the lane, soared up towards the rim, and attempted the poster-dunk. Although it did not fully connect, the ball fell through the net, giving the Vikings a one-point advantage, 55-54. LaPorte went down the floor and got the lead right back.

Jack Smiley received the ball on the wing, went to his go-to mid-range pullup, and hit it. Making him the first junior in school history to reach 1,000 points. After the short break to celebrate Smiley, LaPorte's Dylan Salisbury hit a three and made the game 59-57 in favor of the Slicers. LaPorte got the ball back with a minute left, and senior Rylan Kieszkowksi shot an open three and missed, giving the Vikings another opportunity. The Slicers fouled Smiley, and he hit both free throws, tying the game. An offensive rebound by Laporte off of a missed three allowed them to get an easy layup and give them a two-point lead with only 14 seconds left. Smiley got to his mid-range pullup and was short; luckily, Stokes was able to grab the offensive rebound and make the layup while getting fouled. Stokes made the free throw, giving Valpo a one-point lead with four seconds left. The Slicers could not convert with such little time left, and the Vikings ended up winning the game 62-61.


Jack Smiley led the attack with 31 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Caden Crowell and Alec Platipodis each scored 10 points and chipped in by grabbing multiple rebounds. After the game, the team was happy to come out and sign autographs for all of the people in attendance in this close DAC battle.

The next home game is Tuesday, where Valpo will host the Hobart Brickies and celebrate the senior Vikings on Senior Night.

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