Shorthanded Vikings lose in overtime

By Mike Zummo
Posted 2/24/21


The Valley Central boys’ basketball team opened the season short on players and took on the Warwick Wildcats on the road.The result was an overtime loss.The Vikings were back in …

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Shorthanded Vikings lose in overtime


The Valley Central boys’ basketball team opened the season short on players and took on the Warwick Wildcats on the road.

The result was an overtime loss.

The Vikings were back in action against the Wildcats last week – this time with a more complete roster – and the result was different. Instead of an overtime loss, the Vikings won their first game of this COVID-19-shortened season with a 59-49 win over the Wildcats on Wednesday afternoon.

“Having Zach Bealer made a big difference,” said Frank Nutt, who got his first varsity victory since taking over from Eric Bartle, who retired from the district last June. “Any time we give some senior leadership to our young guys, we play better.”

Bealer didn’t lead the Vikings – but he came close – scoring 18 points and knocking down some big baskets down the stretch. With the Vikings trailing the Wildcats by two points, Bealer scored off a rebound to tie the game at 44. Then he knocked down a 3-point basket with 4:25 in the game to give the Vikings the lead for good.

“He got two really big rebounds,” Nutt said. “One on an offensive rebound and another on a defensive rebound that were pretty key to stopping their run. He made a nice basket and made a nice extra pass to someone under for a layup.”

Raysean Johnson led the Vikings with a game-high 21 points.

The Vikings jumped on the Wildcats in the first half, opening a 13-point lead with 3:58 left in the second quarter after 3-pointer by Henri Pothier.

Then the Wildcats started coming back, grabbing some steals, and going on a 6-0 run to close the Vikings’ lead to eight points.

After Johnson restored a 10-point Viking lead with 1:21 to go, Warwick’s Jake Dunn, who scored a team-high 15 points for Warwick, answered with a 3-pointer, starting a 5-0 to cut the Vikings’ lead to five points at halftime.

“They started turning us over and they made a bunch of jump shots,” Nutt said. “They hit some 3s and we got a little sloppy with the ball.”

“We were up by 10 points in both games and allowed them to get back in it and didn’t take the game back,” Nutt said. “I was proud we made our run after we got punched in the face a little bit.”

The Wildcats continued their momentum in the second half, cutting the Vikings’ lead to two points, and then Jonah Hederas tied the game at 42-42, and the Wildcats took a two-point lead on a basket by Andrew Aragones.

“I was a little nervous when they went up by two,” Nutt said. “It’s hard when you have guys that haven’t been there. We start two juniors, two sophomores and one senior. They haven’t been in a tough game or in a varsity atmosphere. We got punched in the mouth and now we know what we need to do to be successful, and that was nice to see.”

They put it in the senior’s hands, who scored five straight points, to give the Vikings’ their lead, and to give the Vikings’ first-year coach, his first varsity win.

“It was cool to get a win because who knows what’s going to happen,” Nutt said. “The guys feel good and it helps drive guys in workouts. It’s awesome.”