Vikings win close battle at home over Falcons

For the first time since Dec. 12, the AHSTW boys basketball team is back in the win column, snapping a 10-game losing streak Tuesday night at home against the St. Albert Falcons.

“We dropped some, and then it just kept building,” said Viking Head Coach G.G. Harris. “January has been weird. It’s been hard on us. I would say 90% of high school teams would’ve cashed it in, and not come to practice to work hard. But these kids have stuck together, and have continued to work hard every day, and that’s how you get through it, and thankfully we were able to come away with a win.”

The Vikings got off to a fast start, with multiple players contributing to the scoring in the first quarter. The first bucket of the game came from Sophomore Collin Harder when Senior Nick Denning assisted the ball to him and he made a layup, giving the Vikings an early 2-0 lead.

Senior Falcon Luke Wettengel tied the game with a layup under the basket. Following Wettengel’s layup, the Vikings offense found a groove going on an 11-2 run with multiple shots from Juniors Camden Soukup and Luke Sternberg, and a 3-pointer from Senior Nick Denning, taking a 17-8 lead into the second quarter.

“It’s no secret that we are a little offensively challenged still,” Harris said. “Camden Soukup has really come alive for us these last two or three games, and he needed it because he’s been doing a lot of right things, making a lot of right plays.”

In the second quarter, the Vikings offense continued to put on a show, with Harder scoring a 3-pointer, following by back-to-back buckets from Luke Sternberg, including a 3-point play where he was fouled making a shot, and he added the extra point.

Denning scored shortly after that, as well as Sophomore Ty Nelson, making a 3-pointer and a mid-range shot, helping lead his team to a 35-22 at halftime.

“We just had to keep it going, and keep playing our type of basketball,” Denning said. “We haven’t been there for a while, and it was a good start for us in the first half.”

The Vikings opened the third quarter with a basket from Sternberg, followed by a 3-pointer from Senior Falcon Jaxson Lehnen cutting the Vikings lead to 12. The Vikings went on a 9-2 run after that with free throws from Harder and a few mid-range shots from Denning, giving them a 19-point lead.

Junior Falcon Owen Marshall made back-to-back baskets to close out the third quarter putting his down 17 points entering the final quarter.

The Falcons offense started to come alive more in the fourth quarter with their first shot from Junior Joe Hughes from 3-point range, followed by back-to-back 3-pointers later in the quarter from Wettengel and Sophomore Nick Ballenger, making it a 12-point game. Sophomore Viking Kayden Jorgensen got the Vikings their next bucket on a shot up at the rim, and then Marshall was fouled on a made shot, and he added the extra point to complete the 3-point play.

With just over a minute remaining, Sophomore Falcon Cain Hughes launched a 3-pointer, putting his team down by six points. Falcon head coach Larry Peterson called a timeout. When play resumed, Marshall made a basket cutting the Vikings lead down to five points.

Denning was fouled, sending him to the line making both free throws, and was fouled soon after, making one of two free throws, leading to a 68-62 Vikings win.

“We just had to play how we play basketball,” Denning said. “We practice it plenty, so I just had to put them in. It wasn’t quite the greatest, but we got it done.”

The Vikings will be back on the court Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on the road against the 8-9 Riverside Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are led by Grady Jeppesen, averaging 25.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.

“We’re incredible excited for this stretch,” Harris said. “It’s a tough one, but I think that’s a testament to this group. We’ll have to regroup, rest up, and hit the practice floor on Wednesday. That’s a really quality team over there, they can get really hot.”



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