Unbeaten, unblemished, and unscathed.
A number of times the Evergreen Viking volleyball team has used those three descriptions in claiming outright NWOAL championships.
In a week where head basketball coach John Langenderfer also claimed his 200th career win, his Viking roundball team can now say the same thing after beating Wauseon, 51-37, before a large and enthusiastic home crowd to take home the 2016 girls basketball title on Thursday.
“It was a really emotional night all the way around,” said Langenderfer. “Senior night was emotional. Going for the league title outright was emotional. I feel relieved actually. When you are picked to win and everyone is telling you how good you’re supposed to be it puts a lot of pressure on you.”
The victory over the Indians didn’t come easy at first.
The Vikes jumped out early, 10-5, on Rachael Noe’s long triple and 5 of 6 from the foul line before the Tribe battled back.
Morgan Bzovi’s putback got the Indians within 11-7 at the quarter, then consecutive hoops from Jana Armstrong inside knotted things up at 13 with 4:55 left in the half.
Then, as quick as light, Evergreen rattled off 12 straight to take a commanding lead.
Rachael Noe hit a pair from the line, then Alyssa Noe and Haili Mossing nailed back-to-back three balls before Eden Eisel scored twice off a transition basket, then a breakaway hoop off a steal to make it 25-13 at the 2:10 mark.
“They’re good,” explained Indian coach Ashley Oyer. “We made plays to get back in it and they had an answer. We got it tied and all of a sudden I don’t think we got within eight after that. Give them credit, they do a nice job spacing out the floor so they have room to penetrate and attack.”
“After Wauseon got back in the game a couple of really talented players took over in Alyssa Noe and Haili Mossing,” stated Langenderfer. “I think the triples on consecutive possessions in the middle of that run hurt them and Eden’s coast-to-coast baskets gave us some distance.”
Wauseon stayed within 27-17 at the half thanks to a pair of Brianna Castellano baskets and twice cut the Viking lead to eight in the third quarter, each time courtesy of a Karli Penrod hoop, the second slicing the Evergreen advantage to 33-25 at 4:30 of the quarter break. But again the Vikes had an answer.
Mossing spun into the key and got to the rim for a score to bump the lead back to 10, then Alyssa Noe twice picked a Wauseon dribbler like a puppy dashing to steal biscuits from a big dog for a bucket. Then a three-point play extended the lead to 40-25.
“#11 (Alyssa) Noe got around us every move,” said Oyer. “You know when you see her (on film) then you see her from courtside, she’s even quicker. I mean we’ve got some kids who are quick but she’s really quick and she has a knack for getting the best angle to the basket.”
“She absolutely turned the game around,” said Langenderfer of his junior speedster. “They had it chopped down to eight and we took it back in a hurry.
“She’s just that good, obviously we know it’s not coaching at that point, if I don’t get in their way they’re pretty good,” joked the Viking mentor. “I’m glad I don’t have to guard Alyssa Noe because she is really quick to the bucket. Wauseon plays such great defense so we just tried to spread them out and create one-on-one. Give them credit, they’re as tough defensively as anyone we have played.”
Penrod’s triple along with Armstrong’s bucket inside gave Wauseon a last ray of hope, but a couple of Alyssa Noe free throws and Rachael Noe’s bomb with 2.5 seconds left in the quarter put the Vikings back up 15 at 45-30 and Wauseon never got within 13 the rest of the night.
For the game, Alyssa Noe led all scorers with 18. Mossing had 14 and Rachael Noe 10 for the Vikings who now sport a 17-2 record overall.
Wauseon (now 5-14) was led by Penrod with 11.
Evergreen hosts Tinora tonight before traveling to St. Ursula Saturday.
Joe Blystone can be reached at [email protected]