By Matt Nestor
As the NIC-10 season wears down, each team is trying to gain momentum as they head into the IHSA state playoffs.
For the Guilford Vikings, they hope to keep recent momentum up as they ready for the final three conference games before regionals start March 1 at Harlem.
The Vikings overcame a slow first half and turned a 22-20 lead against the East E-Rabs into a 64-51 victory, their fifth conference win of the year, which has helped move them into a tie for fifth place in the conference.
“Everyone wants to keep their momentum going,” Guilford coach Ed Jones said of their late-season surge. “Hopefully, we keep making strides and can take it to regionals.”
The Vikings got off to a strong start, taking an early 11-4 lead only halfway through the first quarter. But with the E-Rabs falling back into a zone, the Vikings used stalling tactics and ran out the rest of the quarter, content with their lead.
Getting the ball back to start the second quarter, the E-Rabs went on the attack. Led by junior Deontray Austin and sophomore Javon Henderson, East was able to take a brief lead in the second and third quarters.
“I have to tip my hat to East,” Jones said. “They played hard, and they didn’t go away. But we stayed in it, and we played a tough game. The one thing about the E-Rabs is they play hard, and you can’t put them away with one or two shots.”
But after withholding the East run, junior Quavion Kimble took the game over for the Vikings. Kimble, who finished with six rebounds and 20 points, including two emphatic dunks to get to the final score, took the game over in the post, scoring and making great passes to his cutting teammates.
“He stepped up,” Jones said of the Vikings forward. “That’s what I love about these guys, we don’t know who is going to step up on any given night. Tonight was his night. He got baskets, he made plays. He just stepped his game up.”
Junior Brandon Blankenship chipped in 14 points for the Vikings as well, including two 3-point baskets.
Henderson led the E-Rabs with 14 points, the only East player in double figures. Sophomore Steven McNease did his part to help out the E-Rabs as well, throwing in 8 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
The Vikings were unable to keep up their momentum, losing a game at Freeport 69-51 as they prepare for conference-leader Boylan.
Around the conference
→ Barring any unforeseen losses, the Boylan Titans have wrapped up the NIC-10 crown, topping Hononegah 74-67 in overtime. The Titans have a two-game lead over the Jefferson J-Hawks, but hold the tiebreaking advantage over them, having beat them twice. Chris Miller poured in 24 points to lead the Titans, while Nick Bauch and Armani Flannigan combined for 30 points in the post. Mario Donaldson did his best to force the overtime, scoring 25 points to lead all scorers.
→ Jefferson rebounded from their 1-point loss the previous week to Boylan to top Belvidere North 68-61. Marcus Marshall scored 16 points to lead the second-place J-Hawks, who look to protect their one-game lead over Auburn this weekend. Zach Farel scored 13 points for the Blue Thunder, while Brandon Schwebke chipped in 11.
→ The Belvidere Bucs did a good job holding the conference’s leading scorer, J.D. Danforth of Auburn, to 11 points. Anthony Strickland, however, scored 19, and Fred Van Vleet scored 15 points of his own to help lead the Knights to a 83-50 win over the Bucs.
→ The Harlem Huskies kept pace with Guilford in the middle of the pack, picking up a 53-51 victory over the Freeport Pretzels behind 13 points from Bo Andrews.
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From the Feb. 17-23, 2010 issue