by Barry DeLoach
The Humboldt Vikings are good but to win it all you have to a have a little luck along the way. On Monday at home against the Middleton Tigers, Lady Luck was shining brightly as a free throw was wiped off the score board to keep the score at 72-72 forcing overtime. The Vikings outscored the Tigers 14-8 in OT and with the 86-80 win are now Murfreesboro bound this Thursday to take on Knoxville Grace at 1:15 p.m.
In the Sectional game, the first period was all Middleton early. They were hot as fire from three-point land as the Tigers went up 8-2. Jarred Walker hit two shots in succession and the Vikings cut the lead down to 8-6. Justin Pankey went to work in the paint against Middleton as he scored half of the Vikings’ first half points. Kortland Martin’s jumper made it 15-14 but the Tigers led 19-16 after one period.
In the second quarter, Pankey and Josh Glenn scored to give Humboldt their first advantage at 20-19. The lead went back and forth the next few possessions as both teams started to light it up offensively. Down by four, the Vikings went on a 5-0 run with Humboldt taking the lead, 30-28, forcing a Tiger timeout. Humboldt went to work on the inside as Glenn had three buckets. Pankey, Devonte Bennett and Anthony Jones all scored in the paint. Martin hit two treys including banking in at the halftime buzzer to put the Vikes up 37-31 at the break.
Humboldt struggled from the charity line during the second and third period as they hit two-of-eight from the line. Midway through the third period, the Vikings and Tigers were within three points of one another. Martin, Carlton Childs and Martin again scored as the Vikings went up 51-42 with 3:44 left in the third period. Middleton scored a couple of buckets late but another Glenn bucket put Humboldt up 54-46 with eight minutes left in the game.
In the fourth, Pankey scored a couple of times in the paint and the Vikings were up double digits. Walker had a nice assist to Pankey to make it 58-48 with 7:09 on the clock. With 4:58 left in the game, R.J. Abernathy scored on a floater to put the Vikes up 64-53 and the Vikings were cruising. With 2:07 left in the game, the Vikings scored to make it 70-62 and the wheels came off the bus. Middleton went on a 10-0 run in the span of 59 seconds to retake the lead at 72-70. Martin scored on the next Humboldt possession to tie the game at 72-72. The Vikes had a chance to win the game in regulation but a traveling violation was called and Middleton got the ball with five seconds left. The Tigers raced to the other end of the court and drew a blocking foul. Middleton went to the line to shoot two shots with 1.7 seconds left on the scoreboard. Coach Abernathy called timeout to ice the player and it worked on the first shot as it was no good. As he walked to the line to shoot the second shot, Coach Ab called another timeout. After the second timeout, the Middleton Tiger player walked to the line and made the second free throw. The hearts of everyone dropped in a sold out gym, except for about 100 Middleton fans. As the Tiger player shot the ball, his momentum carried him over the line and the referee called a lane violation, wiping out the point and the game went to overtime.
In the OT, Jones got two quick stick back shots to lead by four. After Middleton hit a bomb, Walker hit a shot and Pankey scored three points the old-fashion way. Childs made a steal, got fouled and hit both shots to make it 83-75. Jones had a huge block on the next Middleton possession and Martin got the rebound and was fouled. Martin calmly walked to the line and sank both free throws to put the Vikings up by 10 sealed the fate of the Tigers.
Humboldt got a big scare but came away with the big “W”. The Vikings won the game 86-80 and had four players in double digits. Martin led the Vikings with 22 points followed by Pankey with 18, Bennett with 12, and Jones with 10 points. Glenn had eight big points off the bench. Childs had seven points, Walker had six and Abernathy had two points as the Vikings advance to Murfreesboro in pursuit of the Class A title.
It all starts on Thursday at 1:15 p.m. against Knoxville Grace.