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Vikings defeat Bulldogs in another overtime thriller

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

MOUNT SUMMIT – Blue River welcomed Centerville Friday night in a meeting of surging varsity boys basketball teams in Shelton Gymnasium.

In what has become a recent habit, it was another overtime squeaker for the host Vikings, and key shots from Jackson Thornburgh and Cole Cross late propelled the hosts to a 61-59 overtime win.

Centerville controlled the play, and tempo, early to lead 27-16 at halftime.

But the Vikings came back strong to score 45 points in the last 20 minutes of play to improve to 8-9 on the season, with eight wins in the last 11 games since the team reached full strength after losing the first six games of the regular season.

The Bulldogs, who were crowned Wayne County Tournament champions about a month ago, now stand at 8-11 on the season after winning seven of their previous 10 games before Friday’s contest.

Both the junior Thornburgh and younger Cross, the sophomore point guard Cole, failed to score in the first half, but both came to the offensive fore after intermission.

Cole Cross had 10 of the Viking 19 points in the third quarter as the hosts pulled to within 38-35 after that period.

The visiting Bulldogs hung tough all the way behind senior Justin DuPree’s game-high 20 points and unofficial total of 14 rebounds. Freshman guard Austin Farlow hit three early treys to stake the visitors to a lead, then added two more in the fourth quarter to put CHS on the brink of the road win.

But Blue River had a last possession in the final seconds of regulation, trailing 55-52. The Vikings drew up a special play to get off a potential game-tying three point shot.

“My guys really executed that play, just as we drew it up, and good screens set up Jackson (Thornburgh) for the shot, and we just got stops when we needed to, made plays when needed, and hit some shots when we had to have them,” Blue River varsity Head Coach Brian Klein said of his charges, who continue their upward swing in their play and season record.

Thornburgh’s trey sent play to overtime, and Andrew Froedge hit two charity tosses early in overtime to finish with a 15-point game.

Then twice in the late going of overtime, Cole Cross banked in a pair of left-handed runners in the paint, and he finished with a team-high 16 points, all after halftime. Trey Klein had a dozen points for the Vikings, while both Thornburgh and Luke Cross finished with nine.

While the ending was sweet for Blue River, Klein wasn’t so happy with the beginning.

“Our effort, energy, enthusiasm and intensity was lacking in the first half, and I delivered an inspirational talk at halftime to boost my team for the second half,” the head coach said. “They (Centerville) were picking our zone defense apart in the first half, and we weren’t active on defense.

“In the second half, we had to go to the man-to-man defense and the guys did a good job with that,” Klein continued. “We responded in the second half, got back in the game, then they pushed the lead out to 52-47, but our guys kept fighting, wouldn’t give up. Weeks ago, our team probably couldn’t have responded like that, but they did it, and I am very proud of my team.”

Both teams hit key shots in the final eight minutes of regulation, as BRV hit seven of twelve and scored 20 minutes in those eight minutes of play. Centerville hit six of seven fielders, plus three of four free throws, but a couple of late turnovers, and surrendering the late trey, kept the Vikings in the contest until the home team found a way to win.

Blue River returns to action Tuesday with another tough home game, this time in the Mid-Eastern Conference (MEC). Eastern Hancock visits on Tuesday, then MEC foe Wes-Del comes calling on Friday.

As for Centerville, the Bulldogs are home for a conference game Tuesday as well, with Union City visiting in a Tri-Eastern Conference (TEC) contest. Tri visits Centerville in the TEC on Friday.

Klein spoke of two areas of improvement he would like to see from his squad in the last two weeks of the regular season.

“We need to hit free throws more effectively," the long-time varsity head coach explained. "That is key (12-19 in this game), especially for our guys that handle the ball a lot, and we need to move the ball better on offense. We tended in the first half to pass the ball to each other, and just one guy took the ball and drove it, almost as if we were just taking turns taking our shots. More ball and player movement throughout the game will help us improve some more.”

In the junior varsity game, Centerville roared to an overwhelming 31-9 halftime lead, then the Bulldog reserves held off a spirited Blue River rally in the second half to win 59-45. Damon Felix had 22 points for the Vikings, 21 in the second half comeback.

Blue River 61, Centerville 59 (OT)

CENTERVILLE (59)

DuPree 8-14 4-4 20, Witham 4-10 0-0 8, Brewer 1-5 2-2 4, Torres 1-2 1-2 3, Stevens 2-3 0-0 6, Farlow 5-11 0-0 15, Fordonski 1-1 0-0 3, Brown 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-46 7-8 59.

BLUE RIVER (61)

T. Klein 4-13 4-5 12, C. Cross 6-10 3-7 16, Thornburgh 3-7 2-3 9, L. Cross 4-8 0-0 9, Froedge 5-14 3-4 15, Young 0-2 0-0 0, Morgan 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-56 12-19 61.

Centerville`15`12`11`17`4`-59

Blue River`9`7`19`20`6`-61

3-point goals – Centerville 8 (Farlow 5, Stevens 2, Fordonski), Blue River 5 (Froedge 2, C. Cross, Thornburgh, L. Cross). Rebounds – Centerville 30 (DuPree 14, Brewer 10), Blue River 23 (T. Klein 8). Total fouls – Centerville 15, Blue River 11. Fouled out – Witham. Turnovers – Centerville 16, Blue River 6. JV score – Centerville 59, Blue River 45. Records – Centerville 8-11, Blue River 8-9.