Vikings drop heartbreaker to Grinnell; beat Knox

Phil Roy

The men’s basketball team embarked on a long road trip this weekend to face off against conference opponents Grinnell and Knox.
The first stop was Grinnell, where the Vikes took on “the system” in what was the first day of live Internet broadcast games after the Midwest Conference signed a landmark deal with Penn Atlantic.
The Pioneers drained six three-pointers in the first 10 minutes as they maintained a slim lead over the Vikings through most of the first half.
Lawrence found the open man on most offensive possessions against Grinnell’s double-team defensive press but the Pioneers stayed on top, shooting 45 percent from behind the arc to end the half with the scoreboard at 52-45.
Things stayed much the same through the second half until the Vikings took their first lead of the game since their first basket with a Tommy Schmidt jumper.
Grinnell wouldn’t let the Vikings out of their sight, however, as they responded to every threat of the lead expanding with points of their own.
The Vikings, who had been in foul trouble all night, looked a little weary on the defensive end but kept the scoreboard ticking. With the clock winding down, Lawrence looked to be home and dry after freshman Jayce Apelgren converted both free throws to give Lawrence a 119-116 lead with under four seconds remaining in the contest.
The Pioneers called timeout with under two seconds on the clock and it looked like only a miracle could save them . and it did.
The Pioneers inbounded to their lead scorer John Grotberg who turned and sank his seventh three-ball of the game to send it into overtime. The Vikings, who had shot close to 80 percent from the field throughout regulation time, looked a step slow in the extra period as they dropped to 33 percent.
The Pioneers made a few big shots and stayed true from the stripe as they began inching towards a momentous win for the home side. The Vikings couldn’t get one to fall from behind the arc the entire extra period and ended up losing the heartbreaker 142-130.
Lawrence’s Andy Hurley piled on a career-high 28 points despite being in foul trouble through much of the encounter.
Ryan Kroeger, who ended the night with 21 points, fouled out of the high scoring affair, along with fellow guards Rosenblatt and Megow.
The Vikings moved a state over the next day as they traveled to Galesburg, Ill. for an encounter with the Knox Prairie Fire.
Viking fans had more than the poor-quality streaming video to be worried about as Knox pounced on Lawrence early, rushing to an 11-point lead halfway through the first session.
The Vikings found their rhythm, however, and went on a 22-6 run to take a 36-30 lead going into the half.
Kroeger opened the proceedings of the second half with a three and the Vikings didn’t lead by less than six the rest of the way as they cruised to a 74-63 victory.
Chris Page, who came off the bench to help the Vikings build that first half rally, ended the game with a career high 18 points in 26 minutes of action. The sophomore shot 70 percent from the floor and tallied 7seven rebounds.
Freshman forward John Dekker also put in a career-high performance of eight points on 3-3 shooting.
Sophomore Doug Kadison had a superb weekend with 12 points in the loss at Grinnell and 15 at Knox. This weekend, the Vikings will play host to Illinois College on Friday and will then look to avenge last weekend’s loss when they take on Grinnell, also at the Alexander Gymnasium.
I talked to junior big guy Andy Hurley about the Vikings’ second conference loss of the season. Hurley, a.k.a. “Big Hurlz” a.k.a. “Heezy,” ended the weekend with a total of 36 points.
“We were just 1.9 seconds away,” said the Kimberly native. “Having three guys foul out and three others with four fouls really didn’t help.”
“The game plan will be the same this weekend – we need to execute on the defensive end and stay out of foul trouble.”
We’ll look forward to the always exciting match-up. First up is Illinois College at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and the rematch with Grinnell tips off at 4 p.m. Saturday. See you all there.