Vikings’ D fuels three conference wins

Matt Hoh

The men’s basketball team is back on track with three straight conference wins in the last week with a combined score of 257-159. Senior captain Ryan Kroeger led the Vikings with an impressive 54 points in the three games.
The Vikes had quite the rebound after last week’s tough loss to Carroll. Senior Doug Kadison talked about the loss to Carroll as “a blessing in disguise.”
“We realized that we needed to change our focus to the defensive end and we have done that. Our defense has sparked our offense and we are a better team,” he said.
The focus on defense was apparent as Lawrence held Beloit to only 23 percent shooting from the floor in the 79-41 victory last Tuesday. The Vikings jumped out to a 39-18 lead in the first half and never looked back.
Kroeger led the team with 17 points, while senior Chris Page battled in the paint and ended the game with a team-high 12 rebounds. The win marked the 14th straight win in the series for the Vikings over the Bucs.
Another factor in the big wins was the great effort and play off the bench. Kroeger said, “The guys coming off the bench have really given us a spark both offensively and defensively. When guys come off the bench and play hard, it ripples through the team and back to the starters.”
With a 47-24 lead at the half, the Vikings rolled past the Fighting Scots of Monmouth College. Again the LU defense stepped up, holding the Scots to 34 percent from the floor. Leading the charge again was Kroeger with 20 points.
Next on the schedule were the Foresters of Lake Forest College, who were no match for the new-and-improved powerful LU defense. Held to just 38.5 percent from the floor, the Foresters fell to Lawrence 88-55.
The Vikings defense sparked the offense, as all five starters – Kadison, Page, senior Jayce Apelgren, junior John Dekker and Kroeger – finished in double figures. The game was over by halftime as the Vikings had built up a lead of 22.
Apelgren commented on the key to continuing the recent success. He said, “We have to continue to D it up. If we do, we are extremely tough to beat.”
The Vikings are back in action Friday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at Alexander Gym when they take on Grinnell. The team would really appreciate your support. It is fun and free!