For the second straight NWOAL game, Jerry Keifer’s Evergreen Vikings found themselves in a double-digit hole.
For the second straight game, the Vikings battled themselves out of it with a barrage of third quarter three-point goals and a stifling fourth quarter defense to outscore Swanton 26-8 in the last 14 minutes for a 48-40 win before a large and electric crowd at Evergreen Friday night.
The victory keeps the Vikings in a first place tie in the league at 3-0 with Wauseon.
The Vikings jumped out to a 6-2 lead with 2:31 left in the first on Nate Brighton’s bucket inside and John Machacek’s drive, but the Bulldogs took an 8-6 lead with 46 seconds left on Hunter Mix’s three-ball.
What that shot did was start a flurry of Swanton triples, two from Randy Slink and another from Jared Wilson that bumped the Bulldog lead to 19-13.
Another basket by Slink inside made it 21-13 before Brighton’s post move, Chandler Lumbrezer’s drive and a triple from the top of the key by Josh Dowling got Evergreen back to 24-20 at the half.
The same duo of Slink and Wilson each connected from long range to start the third, and after Brighton’s basket was countered by Josh Vance going to the rim, Swanton had a 32-22 lead with 6:14 to go in the third.
However, Evergreen’s defense would pick it up from there. And as they were getting stops at one end, air raid sirens went off for the next four minutes as the Vikings knocked down five triples to erase that 10-point deficit.
Mason Loeffler hit his first bucket of the night, a triple at the 5:24 mark, then Bryce Hudik knocked one down 24 seconds later to get what had been a quiet Viking crowd back into the game.
Then three straight times in 60 seconds, Loeffler connected from long range, the last with 1:11 to go that gave Evergreen a 37-36 lead.
Dylan Gilsdorf’s basket from the side of the key gave Swanton a one-point lead heading into the fourth.
Brighton and Wilson traded hoops as Swanton took a 40-39 lead with 5:52 left.
That was when the Viking defense that had been much more active since that six minute mark in the third, became more like piranhas looking for the smell of blood, not giving the Bulldogs a good look the rest of the way.
Loeffler scored on an offensive rebound, then Brighton turned a dish inside from Dowling into a three-point play, before Dowling took a backcut from Hudik for a layup to put the game away.
After hitting 12 of their first 24 shots, including six triples, Swanton was just 4 for 23 the rest of the night.
Evergreen only shot 38 percent for the game but hit 43 percent after a 2 for 10 opening quarter.
Both teams took care of the ball well, committing only seven turnovers each.
The Vikings had a 36-31 rebounding advantage, led by Brighton’s 13.
Scoring wise, Brighton and Loeffler each had 14 for the Vikings while Slink had 14 for Swanton.
Vikes defeat Green Bears, Dogs drop another
The same formula of three-point shooting and great defense extended into Saturday night for the Vikings against Ottawa Hills in a 58-45 triumph.
This time it was Hudik’s three first quarter lazers from long range to get Evergreen going, along with Dowling’s pair of drives to blast Evergreen into a 15-7 lead after one.
Dowling, Lumbrezer and Brighton all hit from outside in the second and Loeffler scored twice from midrange to extend Evergreen’s lead to 30-13 at the half.
Ottawa Hills made a second half run behind Eliot Cummings to slice the Evergreen lead to 10 at 43-33, but Loeffler stuck a buzzer beating triple right in the face of Cummings to end the third to keep the Green Bears at bay.
Four Vikings reached double figures as Evergreen evened their season record at 8-8 after a 1-5 start.
Lumbrezer has 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Loeffler also had 14.
Hudik had 12 points and Dowling 11.
Swanton was on the road again Saturday where they fell convincingly to Genoa, 52-14. The Bulldogs (5-11, 0-3 NWOAL) next host Patrick Henry in league play on Friday.
Evergreen hosts Delta in a NWOAL contest Friday.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com
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