Valparaiso defeats Penn
The Vikings hosted the Coach Coolman-led Penn Kingsmen for their first home game of the new year. With adrenaline rushing and emotions high, the Vikings started off the game with two turnovers while shooting 0/3 from the field, causing Penn to go on an 8-0 run and Coach Lieske to call his first timeout. Right out of the timeout, Caden Crowell drew a foul, got the bucket to go, and hit the free throw, cutting the lead to only 5 for Penn. The Vikings kept trading blows with the Kingsmen, and by the end of the first quarter, Penn had the lead over Valpo 15-8. In the second quarter, the Vikings faced their biggest deficit of the game, trailing by 12 with four minutes left in the half. Coach Lieske and the Vikings went into half down by 11, 27-16.
Although Valpo was down going into halftime, they did not lose hope. They came out in the third quarter with a new mindset and a different kind of energy. By the end of the third quarter, the Vikings had all the momentum in the gym while only trailing by six points.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Vikings went on a 11-2 run to take the lead for the first time in the game, 44-41. A three by the Kingsmen made it a tie game with 2:47 left to play. A block by Alec Platidpodis helped the Vikings get the ball back, and he got the ball in the post on the other end of the floor and got fouled; he went 1-2 at the line and gave the Vikings a one-point lead with 1:50 left in the fourth. The game came down to 15 seconds left, and Jack Smiley committed a foul, forcing Penn to shoot two at the free throw line. He missed both at the line and gave the Kingsmen no choice but to foul. Jack Smiley made both free throws and gave Valpo a three-point lead, 47-44, with ten seconds left. Penn attempted a three-pointer last second, but it did not fall, giving the Vikings another home win and improving to 11-3 on the year.
Jack Smiley led the Vikings with 20 points, five assists, and six rebounds. KJ Avery stepped up big when the Vikings needed him most, scoring 10 points in a high-intensity game. Caden Crowell also chipped in seven points. In the rebounding category, Alec Platipodis grabbed seven boards, while Crowell and Julian Stokes collected five each.