For the fifth straight game, Jerry Keifer’s youthful Evergreen Vikings found themselves in a fourth quarter dogfight Friday at Delta.
However, unlike the previous four in which the Vikings let a lead slip away, Evergreen outscored Delta 20-10 to turn a one point deficit into a 52-43 triumph Friday to move to 8-10 on the season.
“We made plays coming down the stretch,” said Viking coach Jerry Keifer. “Unlike the last few games we made good decisions with the basketball, we took good shots and we made stops when we really needed to and it helped us win a basketball game.”
Delta stayed neck and neck with Evergreen in the first quarter as Elliot Schneider and Zak Davis scored off the offensive glass three times to counter three-point shots from Chandler Lumbrezer, Bryce Hudik and Nate Brighton to forge a 13-13 tie after one.
Lumbrezer picked up back-to-back rebound scores but Gabe Freeman also hit consecutive shots for the Panthers before Giorgio Festinoni drained a three-ball with 34 seconds left in the half to give Delta a 24-22 lead at intermission.
“Other than the Patrick Henry game, this was probably Giorgio’s most complete game,” Panther coach Jeremy Lohman said. “There were times earlier in the year when we could take the good with the bad with Giorgio but the last couple of games he has really controlled the turnovers and he’s seeing things really well. He just keeps getting better and better.”
Brighton’s triple gave Evergreen a short-lived lead early in the third before Davis answered with a rebound basket, Schneider got the same and then hit a triple from the top of the key.
But Hudik kept Evergreen within a point heading into the fourth with a drive, a turnaround bank shot, then a three-point play to close the gap to 33-32 going into the final eight minutes.
“Bryce just does so many things for us,” explained Keifer. “He is really long on the perimeter on defense, he rebounds, he scores and really doesn’t take a bad shot either. He really, really does all the things you need to win.”
That length on defense was apparent early in the fourth with a pair of steals that led to Lumbrezer’s three-point play, then a triple from Mason Loeffler that put Evergreen up 38-33.
After Festinoni nailed a bank shot, Loefller and Festinoni traded triples to keep Delta within 41-38.
But at a time the last four games Evergreen failed to make plays to score in the previous four outings, the Vikings found the open man consecutive times downcourt. Loeffler found Josh Dowling for a nifty reverse layup, Austin Blanton hit Loeffler slicing to the rim and Dowling also hit Loeffler on a backcut for a three-point play that put the game out of reach.
“We shared the ball much better the last few minutes of the game,” said Keifer. “It’s really great to see that aspect when everyone gets involved.”
“We had them where we wanted them going into the fourth,” said Lohman. “In the fourth quarter we struggled to score and we knew that they would go man and the length in the passing lanes really hurt us.”
In that fourth quarter, Evergreen went 7 for 11 from the field and 18 for 45 for the game, while the Panthers were 16 for 48.
After committing 11 first half turnovers, the Vikes only had four in the second while forcing 18 Delta tunovers for the game.
Loeffler led Viking scorers with 14 but Hudik’s complete game was the key as the 6’2” sophomore had 13 points, six rebounds, six steals, three assists and a block.
Lumbrezer added 12 points and eight boards.
Schneider led Delta with 13 and Festinoni had 12 for the Panthers, now 1-15 on the season.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org