Polis got the start because Jeremiah Dominguez committed a rules infraction on the last road trip. Kramer Knutson got the start for the Pilots at center because he is a bit bigger than Sikma. Raivio at point because Ito is out. Mickey Polis started the scoring with a 3 ball, then Raivio answered. Huff has looked tired, and he was pulled 3 1/2 minutes in after throwing a bad pass and committing a foul. Mara and Sikma each hit 3 balls too going into the first timeout. First Timeout: 8-8 Mara was really tough out of the gate, going to the floor twice. Andre Murray finally hit a jump shot giving the Viks a lead. Scott Morrison then fouled Nik Raivio on his way to the rim, causing him to bleed badly from the chin. Walter Thompson, who burned the Viks last year, came in for Raivio. Robin Smeulders (the Pilots leading scorer) came in for Knutson, but nobody has been successful against Morrison inside so far. No matter the situation, Dominguez has been shooting great hitting another outside shot. Going into the second timeout, the Viks’ attack has been very balanced, but they’d like to see Huff and Lucas hit their shots. Second Timeout: 17-13 Vikings Walter Thompson started quick for the North-siders with 7 points in the first ten minutes after missing two free throws. Sikma and Raivio kept the pace at 7 going in to the third timeout, while Morrison and Dominguez had 6 for the Vikings. Third Timeout: 24-24 Lucas finally hit his first shot with 7 minutes left in the half. Though Kyle Coston was questionable going in, he played well in the first half, shooting the ball well. Unfortunately for the Viks, 3 of their starters (Morrison, Mara, Huff) got in foul trouble in the first half. Though many Viking fans (myself included) have been critical of Polis, his shooting cannot be argued with. Though he didn’t go up against Morrison in the first half, Sikma was dominant on the boards gathering 9 in the first half. Off the bench, Julius Thomas was good on the boards too, but couldn’t hit his put back attempt. Fourth Timeout: 33-32 Pilots Deonte Huff couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn from the field, but he hit on his first four free throw attempts. Even though the bench was finally semi-effective, Bone went with Mara and Huff to end the half with Mara hitting a late 3 ball. Lucas had 5 assists in the first half, but just 2 points. The Vikings have to be happy that they held Smeulders to just 1 point, but upset at the rebound deficit (19-15).
Halftime: 37-35 Vikings
Hannibal started the second half in place of Knutson for the Pilots. Huff started the second half with his first field goal, and added a free throw for the and-1. Mara added another three ball to extend the Viking lead to 8. Sikma got his third foul after picking up his tenth rebound. He came out, and the Vikings took advantage. They were able to get back to back inside buckets and extend their lead to nine going into the first media timeout. However, Huff picked up his third foul going into that timeout. First Timeout: 47-38 Vikings After two free throws for the Pilots, Mara made his fourth 3 ball, and that made him 4-4. Watson then hit back to back jumpers to give him 18 points which lead the Pilots at the time. Murray hit for his third field goal going into the timeout. Second Timeout: 54-48 Vikings With 10 minutes left, Sikma got his double-double at 10 points and 10 boards. Julius Thomas finally got his first bucket on an alley-oop lay-up with 8 minutes left. Huff drew his fourth foul, though forcing the Viks to go big. Ahead of the timeout, Walter Thompson got into double figures for the Pilots with 10.Third Timeout: 60-55 Vikings Tyrell Mara hit another big 3 to put the Viks back up 8 after two missed free throws by Morrison. Raivio came back the other way and answered. After Morrison hit a lay-up, Raivio hit another 3 to cut the lead to 4. However, Dominguez came back with one of his own to answer. The teams traded baskets for the next couple of minutes. There was no final media timeout until there were 36 seconds left due to 2 team timeouts, and some mistakes by the referees.Final Media Timeout: 74-69 Vikings Morrison hit 1 of 2 with 46 seconds. Huff added two more to make it 75-69. Watson hit a jumper in the lane for the Pilots with 27 seconds left. Huff redeemed some terrible games earlier in the season hitting 9-9 from the line.
This was a big one for the Viks, and their first ever victory at the Chiles Center. They did a great job shutting down Smeulders, allowing him only 3 points. Though they did allow big games by Watson, (20) Raivio, (20) and Sikma, (12 Pts, 14 Boards) they shut down the one player who could really beat them on his own. Clutch free-throws by D-Huff down the stretch wrapped this one up. Tyrell Mara was the player of the game for the Vikings hitting 5-6 from downtown, and leading the team with 7 tough rebounds.
Final: 78-73 Vikings