Opposing boys basketball teams may look at the Vinton-Shellsburg record (4 wins, 8 losses) and stat sheet (no conference leaders in any major category) and think that this year's team could not be quite so threatening on the court.
But as 4th-ranked Solon found out last week, that's not at all the case. The Vikings defeated the Spartans by one point, 50-49, on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Coach Joe Johnson said that while this team is clearly different from last year's team which made it through the regular season undefeated and advanced to State, the 2013-14 Vikings have shown they can play with -- and beat -- anyone.
Although the Vikings have lost eight games, four of those losses have been by 4 points or less. One of those losses came vs. Center Point-Urbana, which earned its first win of the season by defeating V-S, 51-48, on Jan. 11. The Vikes travel to CPU tonight for a re-match.
"This season, like many other seasons, has had its ups and downs," said Coach Joe Johnson. "We started off slow, with lots of kids without experience and had to figure out their roles on the team."
Yet, Johnson has seen his team improve every day.
"I can say we've gotten better and better each week at practice and games," he says. "This group of kids give all they have every night and they are extremely coachable. It's been fun for me as a coach to see them start to have some success after such a rough start. We have a long ways to go but that's the encouraging thing. If we couldn't get better, I would be worried."
Highlights make recent games memorable
The past two weeks the Vikings have played in 3 overtime games (and played 5 overtime games this season).
"We hit three buzzer beaters to either send it to overtime or win the game," says Johnson. "We beat #4 Solon with a three at the buzzer. We threw a length-of-the-court-pass with .5 seconds and tipped it in to send a game into overtime at Marion and we beat them."
While the close games can be quite stressful on players, coaches and fans, Johnson said the experience will help the Vikes down the stretch.
"I believe playing all these close game have and will help us down the road. It proves to the boys that they can play and beat anyone and that's proven. I think it will help come tournament time," says the coach.
District Foes
The Vikings are in class 3A District 8; to get to the Sub-State they will have to get past CPU, Marion and C.R. Xavier. The District 8 champion will play the winner of District 7, which includes two teams with just two losses so far: Western Dubuque and Dubuque Wahlert. District games begin Feb. 25; times and opponents will be announced later, after the Iowa High School Athletic Association has completed the seeding of district teams, which will take place next month.

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Comments (1)

That Solon game was an exciting and very intense game. Lots of physical and mental toughness. Good job, Vikings. And....nice shot, Griffin!
By: Don Eells on January 31st 1:38pm

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