Some two plus weeks ago, Evergreen put in an effortless and lethargic performance in a 19-point blowout loss to a highly-efficient Delta offense.
The Vikings let that memory burn in real good since then and did a 180-degree U-turn with an enthusiastic defensive performance to break away from a third quarter tie to take a 40-35 victory in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball Thursday night in Delta.
“It’s nice to get that first league win and against a good team like Delta who was 6-1,” Viking coach Jerry Keifer said after.
“They beat us by 19 on our own floor so there was a little motivation to come out and play well. We had a great week of practice and what I was impressed with was our second group all week. They played Delta’s zone well and if you can get your second group to do that and do it well to prepare then you are going to be pretty good.”
The Panthers are now 7-2 on the year after a 47-37 win at Stryker Saturday.
The Vikes Drew Gillen’s two buckets inside courtesy off offensive rebounds set the tone on the Vikings’ effort level for the night, and while Delta found few open looks in the first stanza, Eli Keifer added a pair of long triples and a swipe-and-score for a 12-2 lead at the quarter break.
Evergreen built a 15-point second quarter lead as their hot shooting continued.
Tyson Woodring found Riley Dunbar on a sweet dish inside, then Keifer on a fast break hoop.
Ryder Hudik canned a triple and Keifer did the same for a 26-11 bulge with 44 seconds left.
However, a last shot play turned into a Viking turnover and Justin Ruple bagged a long-range bomb with 3.2 on the clock that not only sliced into the Viking lead, but began what turned into a 15-0 Panther run.
This time it was Evergreen that committed some sloppy turnovers in the third and the Panthers took advantage.
James Ruple got inside from the backside three times, Nolan Risner hit a three-ball from the corner, and Bryar Knapp’s score with 1:29 on the clock brought the Panthers all the way back to a 26-all tie.
Just that quick, the Vikes blur of a guard in Woodring regained control.
The speedy junior scored twice within 19 seconds, the first on a putback and the second on a thievery and run to the rim.
Risner’s hoop at the other end was offset plus-one by Keifer knocking home 3-3 from the line when he was fouled shooting an off-balance triple at the horn to regain a 33-28 Viking lead.
Keifer found Gillen and Dunbar on lobs to extend the margin to 37-30 but Bryce Gillen got one of his very few open looks of the night for three, then added another bucket to close the gap to a deuce with five minutes left.
Evergreen’s Gillen hit the first of the bonus from the stripe for a three-point margin with 28 ticks left and the Panthers, working for a tie, could only get off Gillen’s forced triple that careened out of bounds with four seconds to go.
Hudik’s Patrick Mahomes like strike to a streaking Woodring for a hoop closed the game.
“I think when you get embarrassed like we did the first time, and you know you got embarrassed and you are an athlete, I’d be disappointed if you didn’t come out with a little bit more fire,” coach Keifer said about his team’s intensity level. “We had a lot of determination tonight.”
Keifer led all scorers with 18 points.
After knocking in 25 in the first meeting, the Vikings held Gillen to a hard working 10. Risner also had 10 for the Panthers.
Vikings slam Fairview, 69-41
Two nights later it was the same pair of Woodring and Keifer leading the way but a huge supporting cast gave a grade A performance.
The Viking duo combined for 12 first quarter points and Walker Lumbrezer added two more buckets as Evergreen raced out to a 10-point lead at the quarter horn against Fairview.
Woodring had six more in the second, and this time it was Jesse Spradlin off the bench for a triple and a layup off a turnover to boost the Vikes up 29-17 at the half.
Dunbar hit three times inside and the last of those started a 12-0 Viking run that put the game away, boosting the margin to 49-26 after three.
From that point, Lumbrezer canned two triples while Mason Emmitt and Ben Ruetz each added another from outside the arc to take the Vikings home.
Keifer had 17 points and Woodring 16 to lead scoring. Lumbrezer’s 10 led a barrage of 27 Evergreen points off the bench.
Evergreen is now 7-3 and hosts Cardinal Stritch Tuesday night.