Men’s basketball starts new winning streak

Douglas McEneaney

After the heartbreaking loss to Carroll College Saturday, Feb. 2, the Vikings needed to once again prove to the conference that they are the team to beat. The Vikings hosted Monmouth College and Lake Forest College Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both were worthy opponents, so the Vikings once again needed to play like they have been all season.
Friday’s game against Monmouth started slightly slower than expected for the Vikings. The score in the early minutes had a seesaw effect, as the Vikings were never really allowed to break away from Monmouth.
With 7:13 left in the first half, the Scots were within two points and the fans reluctantly prepared themselves for a possible repeat of Carroll. As the rest of the first half played out, the Vikings reassured their fans that no such occurrence would happen. From that 7:13 minute mark, the Vikings went on an 18-2 run to close the first half. The Vikings led 49-31 at halftime.
The second half began just as the first half had ended. From 7:13 left in the first half to the 15:32 mark of the second half, our Vikings outscored the Scots 39-7, creating a gap too large to battle back from.
With 15 minutes left in the second half, the Vikings had a comfortable lead of 34 points. The largest lead of 38 was with a little over four minutes to play off senior George Hogen’s three-pointer.
The game ended 105-68. Eighteen players saw time, with none seeing less than five minutes. Juniors Ryan Kroeger and Chris Page led the Vikings with 16 points apiece, and a special congratulations went to Hogen for his career-high nine points.
After the win against Monmouth, the Vikings knew they had to remain level minded against the Foresters of Lake Forest. The Vikings knew that the Foresters were fighting for a possible playoff spot and that maintaining first place stature is equally important when playoff time rolls around.
The Vikings scored first in Saturday’s game and lead for the first few minutes. However, the Foresters battled back and once again, both teams were fighting for leads.
The first half saw six lead changes with no lead greater than the Vikings’ six points to begin the game. The half concluded with the Foresters up 38-36.
The Vikings felt the urgency from the Foresters and came out of the locker room knowing that their first-half effort would certainly not be enough.
In the early minutes of the second half, both teams once again fought resiliently for a lead. It was not until the 14:54 mark that the Vikings finally were able to go on a run.
Over those next 10 minutes, the Vikings went on a 23 – 6 run, shattering much hope for the Foresters. With a score of 71 – 51 with a little less than five minutes to play, the Vikings knew the game was theirs with smart basketball.
Their lead remained in double digits for the rest of the game and the game ended 84 – 69 in favor of the Vikings.
The Vikings had four players scoring in the double digits. Page led the Vikings with 18 points and senior Andy Hurley led the team with nine rebounds.
Once again, it was evident that the strength of the Viking offense lies in the sharp shooting and the overall team contribution. Over the weekend, the Vikings shot over 50 percent from the field and just under 50 percent from three-point range.
All eighteen players saw action and contributed greatly to the wins this weekend. The Vikings continue to lead the conference, with an overall record of 16-2, 11-1 in conference. The Vikings retained their top-25 ranking by, falling at the 23rd spot.