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Vikings celebrate reaching State Tournament after Sub-State win Monday.

Standing late last night on the court where their last loss – which took place a year ago tomorrow – taught them what they could accomplish this year, the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikings looked back on the first 24 games of their season.

The journey began, not with basketballs in their hands, but pencils.

“We made a goal sheet,” said Chris Merchant and Chase Overton, the Vikings’ sixth and seventh men – who also make it a point to stand side-by-side when the National Anthem is played before each game.

Along with intangibles like good sportsmanship, the players set some lofty goals that can be measured on scoreboards – and preserved for future Vikings in banners hung from the school’s gym and hardware in the VSHS trophy case:

Go undefeated at home.

Go undefeated, period.

Win the WaMaC.

Get to State.

They did all that this year and Coach Joe Johnson said it’s not surprising that they did.

“We knew we would be good,” he said after the team celebrated its WaMaC Conference championship with a net-cutting a couple weeks ago.

Now, the Vikings have one last goal to accomplish: Winning the State Tournament.

The Vikings went to State as a team last year – as spectators. They had lost to Western Dubuque in the Sub-State game, on Feb. 27, 2012, at the McLeod Center, where they defeated Crestwood Monday night.

“It was disappointing to lose that game,” said Coach Johnson. “Western Dubuque was a good team.”

Senior Max Kearns – who led the Vikings and most of the rest of Iowa in assists all season -- used a much shorter sentence to recall that loss.

“It hurt,” he said.

After that loss, Coach Johnson sought and received permission from Principal Matt Kingsbury to take his team to State to watch.

It was tough, but inspiring to do that, say the players.

“We told ourselves we’d get there next year,” said Chase.

And now, they have.

The Vikings will play Harlan – from Shelby County in western Iowa, a county and a half from Nebraska – at 3:45 p.m. next Tuesday, March 5.

The 8 at State

The Vikings are the only undefeated team in Class 3A in Iowa, and are the No. 1 seed in the state tournament. The next seven teams in order of their seeding, are: Dallas Center-Grimes, Waverly-Shell Rock, Grinnell, MOC-Floyd Valley, Mount Pleasant (last year’s state champs), Davenport Assumption and Harlan. See the Class 3A bracket and schedule HERE.

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Comments (6)

This is fantastic. Congrats to team, coaches administration and community. Best wishes to all.
By: Steve Smith "65" on February 26th 9:41am
Again, congrats to Vikings and coaches. So very proud of you. You have truly represented your school and community with pride. Go to state, have fun and win it. You have already won the hearts of Vinton, now the trophy is within your reach.
By: Marilyn Johnson on February 26th 10:25am
Being a former Vinton Bluejay bench-warmer, I will stand up here in Waterloo and howl:
Jerry Easter (VHS Class of 1957)
By: Jerry Easter on February 26th 12:59pm
Congratulations.... class of 60'
By: Gretchen Holtz Kopecky on February 26th 2:09pm
Go Vikings! Show the State what you can do. Class of '65.
By: Dave Albert on February 26th 2:15pm
Congrats! What a ride!

By: Dawn White on February 26th 10:20pm

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