MONTPELIER – Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick….
You can hear the bomb.
You know at some point it’ll explode.
You don’t know when, but what you DO know is when it does you better run for cover.
Like that ticking bomb, Evergreen exploded a number of different times in a two-day span, using big scoring bursts to hammer Montpelier 84-36 Friday, then came from behind to beat a very athletic Fostoria team, 71-51, in the finals on Saturday, securing their third straight Northwest Holiday Classic title.
With the pair of wins, Evergreen improved to 6-1 on the year.
“This was a good holiday win for us,” said Viking coach Jerry Keifer. “I thought Nate (Brighton) and Mason Loeffler were tremendous for us as they have been all year so far. They really got us started.”
In the opening round, Loeffler and Brighton combined for 24 first quarter points, as the Vikings bolted to a 33-8 lead after eight minutes.
Jack Etue then made a bombing run of his own, hitting four straight from outside the arc to blast the Vikings’ lead to as much as 48-11 before settling for a 52-19 margin at the break.
The Vikes fired off 35 first half shots, hitting on 22 for 60 percent.
They didn’t cool off much in the second sixteen minutes, rattling off a 57 percent clip from the floor.
This time it was CJ Hauk, scoring all 10 of his points in the second half, leading the way.
It was a Hauk triple, along with a three-point play from Ethan Loeffler, that gave Evergreen a 75-30 advantage heading into the fourth.
The Viking starters had long since departed heading into the fourth, but Evergreen continued to increase their lead as Hauk scored on a back cut from Shane Ruetz, then returned the favor that bumped the lead to 48 points.
Mason Loeffler had 22, Etue 18, and Brighton 17 to go along with 14 rebounds in about 20 minutes worth of work.
Evan Lumbrezer had eight assists and Etue seven. Ethan Loeffler and Hauk also hit double figures with 10 points each.
“It started with the Stritch game (which the Vikings beat the state power, 61-55), where we had more people contributing point wise and making plays offensively,” Keifer said of his team’s balance. “We aren’t a two-man team, we are a seven-man team right now and that is only going to make us better as the season goes on.”
The title game against a 5-1 Redmen squad was much different than the previous night.
Damon Settles hit 10 first stanza points, and Avondre Reed added six as Fostoria ran out to an 18-14 lead after a quarter.
Brighton worked the two-man game with Mason Loeffler for a bucket, then Etue took a feed from Loeffler for a layup to tie the game at 18 a minute into the second.
Another three-ball by Settles put the Redmen up 23-18, but Mason Loeffler went baseline for his second slam of the night to get Evergreen within 23-20 with 4:44 to go.
Reed and Devin Mauricio got into the lane to give Fostoria a 27-22 gap.
From their it was almost all Vikings.
Mason Loeffler laced a deep triple, Hauk found Brighton for a layup, then Hauk drilled a corner triple to regain a Viking lead at 30-27.
Reed hit from way out to tie the game, but Brighton’s steal led to a Mason Loeffler layup with 10 ticks left to give the Vikes a 32-30 lead at intermission.
Reed’s bucket off a turnover to start the third deadlocked the game one last time before Evergreen exploded.
Lumbrezer found Ethan Loeffler by himself for a score, Brighton went one-on-one from the top of the key for a second, then netted a triple after a Redmen turnover. Mason Loeffler then hit two from the line and Etue stuck a left wing triple, and in the span of two minutes, Evergreen had gone from knotted at 32 to a 44-32 lead.
Back-to-back hoops from Reed drew Fostoria to 49-44 with a minute left in the third, but again Evergreen went off.
The Loeffler brothers each scored before the end of the quarter to boost the lead to 53-44, then the run continued into the first minute of the fourth as Mason Loeffler, then Brighton, and Mason Loeffler scored again to put Evergreen in control at 59-44.
The Vikings added on as Lumbrezer got to the rim twice to pad the lead that got as big as 71-49.
“They are a very athletic team and have some tremendous shooters,” Keifer said of the Redmen. “We withstood the storm in the first half and felt very good about taking the lead into the locker room.”
Evergreen actually shot better in the 39-21 second half than the previous night, going 16 of 25 for 64 percent.
Meanwhile Evergreen locked in defensively, forcing 12 second half turnovers and 8 of 26 shooting by the Redmen.
“We came out and got some stops and put together a couple of big runs that were quick,” explained Keifer. “They shoot the three a lot and we caught them in a cold streak and we hit those runs and as the game went on we made them step out further and further for the threes and made it a good win for us.”
Loeffler and Brighton each had 23 points, and Brighton had a game-high 22 rebounds. Etue hit double figures with 12 points and had seven assists.
For the game, Evergreen was 30 of 52 from the floor for 57 percent to drop Fostoria to 5-2 on the year.
Reed had 22 and Settles 19 for Fostoria.
The Vikings travel to Edgerton Saturday.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org