The Valparaiso Vikings exploded onto the court Wednesday night with a super strong defense that carried them to a solid 49-31 win over the Merrillville Pirates. The Vikings advanced to the semifinals and will play Kankakee Valley on March 1.
It was a low-scoring first quarter, particularly for Merrillville, who didn’t hit double digits until after the half. Chalk that up to Valpo’s hefty defense and a few experimental substitutions from the Merrillville bench as they tried to find the right mix to put some points on the board.
The bleachers were quieter than usual while Valpo carried the strong lead throughout, save a few fan-questioned foul calls and hoots from cheerleaders and students. But the Viking momentum was strong anyway, picking up in the second quarter when senior guard Brandon Newman hit his first three-pointer. He followed it up with another less than a minute later, giving him 10 of the Vikings’ 16 points, against Merrillville’s 3. The Vikings did rack up some fouls in the second quarter, but continued to shut down the Pirate offense heading into the half with a score of 25-8.
Merrillville answered in the third quarter with several good looks and a surge into double digits, taking advantage of Valpo’s attempt to speed it up, resulting in a couple of attempts at the line. The third quarter ended 35-16.
Despite a Pirate surge that helped them almost double their score between the third and fourth quarters, the Vikings stayed strong and pulled away with the 49-31 win.
Catch the coverage on Valpolife.com, NWIndianalife.com, La PorteCountyLife.com, and PortageLife.com on Friday and Saturday as the Vikings face off with Kankakee Valley, Michigan City battles Chesterton, Lowell plays East Chicago Central, and Munster meets Crown Point.