Vikings lose to Carroll, fail to extend title-streak

Phil Roy

The Vikings went into Saturday’s season finale needing a win and some help to grab a berth in the conference tournament. A loss at home for either Ripon or Lake Forest would put the Vikings fate in their own hands as they faced off against Carroll.
The Vikings looked a little shaky as action got underway in the first half, scoring just four points in the first five minutes. After being blown out by Carroll a few weeks earlier, Lawrence knew an early deficit would be hard to overcome and they looked determined to keep pace with the Pioneers.
A bucket from junior Andy Hurley with a little over 8 minutes left in the half set the Vikings off on an 11-2 run that saw them take a one-point lead with 1:52 left.
Two quick scores by the Pioneers, however, had the Vikings go into the break down three. The Vikings managed to eliminate the lead, and the teams found themselves deadlocked at 36-36 with 16 minutes left in the contest.
Carroll, powered by their standout guard Nathan Drury, made several big baskets over the next 10 minutes and the Vikings were soon looking at a double-digit deficit.
Lawrence managed to cut the lead to nine with under three minutes left, but Carroll seemed to have an answer to every Viking surge and drilled their seventh three pointer of the half to put the game well out of reach.
Hurley led the Vikes with 12 points, with Kroeger and Kadison contributing 11 and 10. The Vikings end their season at 9-7, and would have missed out on a tournament berth even if the result against Carroll was more favorable.
This year marks the first time in the last four years that the Vikings have failed to claim a spot at the conference tournament. The Vikings, who have not only made it to the tournament but won it the past three years, definitely feel the punch of this seemingly premature end to their season but will look to build on the progress their young squad has made.
The Vikings led the league in field goal percentages both inside and beyond the arc and also held the highest average rebounding margin over opponents.
A major contributor to both of those categories has been junior big guy Andy Hurley who ends his season second in the league in rebounding and third in field goal percentage.
Hurley was quite positive as he reflected on the season, saying the Vikings had their “ups and downs, but had a successful season and have much to look forward to”.
“Going into next season, we need to continue to mature as a team, and will surely eliminate some of the mistakes that a young team makes.”
Asked whether conference opponents should be expecting the Vikings to come out hungry to regain the conference title, Andy nodded at the no-brainer, “Definitely!”
Hurley will return as a leader next year and the Vikings will look to him, as well as junior Ben Rosenblatt and scoring leader Ryan Kroeger, to help regain the conference silverware.
Coach Tharp’s team will return most of its key players next season, with the exception of senior Matt Osland.
“Oz,” well known as a dogged defender and disciplined role player, has been a part of what may go down as one of the “golden ages” of Lawrence basketball and has made a consistent contribution through his play and leadership.
Ryan Knox and Nate Dineen, despite being hampered by injuries, have also been a part of this growing legacy.
Its been a pleasure following this great team, which at times has been the heartbeat of this Lawrence campus as its students brave frigid temperatures to hike over to rustic Alex Gym to cheer on the great white and blue.
Thanks for the ride, guys.
With this article, I pass on the baton to whoever may follow me in covering the LU Ballers. It’s been an honor.