By Dave Pearce.
On Friday evening, North Posey’s senior night, the Vikings were tenaciously grinding it out against rival Gibson Southern until the final period. The Vikings outscored the Titans 27-9 in the final period and pulled away for what the score would indicate was an easy win. But for anyone in attendance, it was anything but easy.
“That was the closest 17-point game I have ever seen in my life,” Viking Coach Heath Howington said following the win. “But we stayed together. You got the best shot from Gibson Southern. They played well and you were able to beat them.”
The Vikings had trouble finding the basket early and with that, the Titans slowed the game down enabling them to take full advantage of every possession and keep the game close.
But in what would be a record-setting night for North Posey senior Michael Bender, the Viking defense took over in the final period.
But the Vikings trailed early by as much as 11-5 as Cody Ungetheim and Reed Gerteisen would score early for the Vikings but it took a Bender offensive rebound bucket inside to pull the Vikings back to within 8-5.
But a 3-pointer by speedy Titan Alex Smith put the Gibson County visitors ahead 11-5. Ungetheim would get the final Viking points in the quarter after he was able to snag a pair of offensive rebounds before sticking one in to make the score 11-7 at the end of the first period.
The second period was not all that different than the first once the Vikings caught up. A James Marshall steal and bucket pulled the Vikings to within 11-9 before Tyler Adkins was fouled inside and made both free throws to pull the Vikings even at 11.
Smith would score again for the Titans before Bender would finally nail the record-breaking shot with 4:30 remaining in the second period. It gave him 58 3-point baskets on the season as he took the school record for 3-pointers in a season away from Bobby Fallowfield, who had held the record since the 1994 season.
Bender’s 3-pointer gave the Vikings a 14-13 edge and Damon Cardin hit one of two free throws to give the Vikings a 15-13 lead before Chandler McKee tied the score at 15 with a bucket.
Bender would then find Ungetheim streaking through the lane to give the Titans a 17-15 lead before Smith tied the game with two free throws just before half-time.
McKee and Smith scored back-to-back to open the second half before Ungetheim hit a free throw and Gerteisen scored on a drive. But McKee would answer with a 3-pointer from the corner before Bender would grab an offensive board and put it back. Smith scored on a drive to put the Vikings ahead 27-22 before Viking Coach Heath Howington took a time out. Out of the time out, Gerteisen would hit one of two free throws and then score on a rebound basket as the Vikings actually trailed 27-25 heading into the final period.
Bender nailed his second 3-pointer of the night to give the Vikings an early 28-27 lead in the final period but the Titans were not finished. Shane Murphy put the Titans ahead 29-28 before Bender was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit two of the three free throws.
Titan Damian Silva hit a three to put the Titans ahead at 32-10 and that’s when the Vikings went to work in earnest.
Adkins hit Bryce Martin, open for a 3-pointer and Ungetheim found Bender for another three and suddenly the Vikings had their largest lead of the night at 36-32. The Titans took a time out but the Vikings seemed to have found the momentum.
Drake Davenport found Ungetheim open at the 4:17 mark and the Vikings took a time out with 3:48 left.
Bender again found Ungetheim at the 3:25 mark for a bucket and Gerteisen was fouled taking the ball inside. He hit both free throws at 2:55 and the Vikings enjoyed a 42-32 lead.
Smith finally found a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get the Titans off the 32 mark but Gerteisen found Ungetheim off the press-breaker and the Vikings scored again. Smith hit a free throw but Marshall hit two for the Vikings.
Leading 46-36, the Vikings took another time out and out of the time out, Bender hit perhaps his most relaxed-looking 3-pointer of the night at the 1:17 mark to put the Vikings ahead by 13.
“I thought you guys showed a lot of guts tonight, especially in that fourth quarter,” Howington told his team. “You went out and played the game you have been playing since you were this tall in this gym.”
Bryce Martin and Grant Scheller hit two free throws apiece to complete the scoring and the Vikings had won their third in a row, 53-36.
Bender led the team with 18 points while Ungetheim had 14 rebounds.
By Dave Pearce.