By Matt Maher
LEAVITTSBURG, OH – The Vikings were on a mission to earn their 20th win of the season on Tuesday night and their opponent was on a mission to avoid their 20th loss and after a hard fought battle the kings of the MVAC showed everyone they were more than just that and took down their Northeast 8 opponent by the score of 70-62.
The first quarter saw these two fierce competitors play a very tight game that saw several lead changes but ultimately saw LaBrae take the lead of 17-13 into the second but Girard stayed right behind them and never got too far out of reach from here. Dom Philips was electric from everywhere and that electricity started production in the first with an 8 point start including two 2’s a 3 and a made free throw. Stephen Sims also showed up with 5 points of his own. The Vikings showed a more balanced offense with four different guys scoring in the first. Austin Rowe and David Blackmon III both came out with 6 points while Derek Wilson warmed himself up with a 3 and Jay McGarry hit 2.
The Vikings continued their offensive night and never lost the lead by putting up 17 more points to Girards improved 14 points. Philips continued to lead his team with 4 more points all found with tough shots down low to give him 12 first half points, while Kaiden Claire and Cam Herrick both sank a 3 apiece. Austin Rowe continued to contribute, this time with two made 3’s to give him 12 first half points to match Girards Philips. Jay McGarry also sank two 3’s to help his team stay atop of the Indians.
While the IDom Philips continued to Impress, the Indians continued to trail after the third, with a 15-13 difference that went the way of LaBrae and a 49-40 overall score at the buzzer, Girard needed a huge boost going down the stretch. Philips continued his dominance with an 8 points quarter all found from within the paint. Sims found 2 more points while Claire hit another 3. Derek Wilson found himself atop his team in scoring this frame with 6 points all from within the arc while Rowe added another 5 points with 3 coming from range.
The Indians geared up and showed a great push in the final 8 minutes and even outscored LaBrae 22-20 but it was too little too late as the Vikings just couldn’t be denied one last victory before heading into the postseason. The Vikings were fouled 9 times in the fourth and their free throw shooting, an excellent 14-for-17, ended up being the difference maker it needed to be. Girard saw scoring from all over the quart including two 3’s from Claire and two ore from Herrick as well as 6 points in the paint from Sims including a perfect steal and a breakaway late and 4 more points from Philips who would get the only two free throws of the quarter for his team and sank them both.
Despite a solid effort everywhere on the floor for Philips and Girard, LaBrae had enough left in the tank after an excellent campaign to pull off another victory and send another team home wondering what more they could do. LaBrae celebrated their win over Girard while also celebrating their first place finish in the MVAC,complete with t-shirts and plenty of photos. Dom Philips led all scorers with 24 points with Austin Rowe a triple behind him with 21. Girard (2-20) gear up for tournament play when they travel to Glenville on February 27th at 7:00PM while LaBrae earned the first round bye and awaits the winner of Manchester vs Keystone and will play on March 1st at 7:00PM.