Boys basketball defeats Wootton 56–43 in regional semifinals

By Matt Mande

The boys basketball team (13–11) beat the Wootton Patriots (10–13) 56–43 Tuesday evening in the regional semifinal round of the playoffs.

Both teams started out jumpy, struggling to hit shots and turning over the ball. Midway through the quarter, the Patriots hit a few perimeter shots and took a 12–4 lead. The Vikes started hitting more shots towards the end of the quarter, but the Patriots remained ahead, leading 14–11 going into the second quarter.

The Vikes played stronger offense and aggressive defense in the second quarter and tied the game up 16–16 with six minutes remaining in the half. For the rest of the quarter, the Patriots struggled offensively, turning the ball over on unforced errors and missed shots. At the end of the half, the Vikes led 26–22.

The Vikes continued playing strong defense in the third quarter, shutting out the Patriots’ offense for the first five minutes and taking a 35–22 lead. The Patriots hit a few shots in the final three minutes, but the Vikes kept a 42–29 lead going into the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Vikes maintained momentum, keeping the lead and taking advantage of their height in the paint. With five minutes left, center Michael Bass dunked on a fast break, energizing the team and extending the Vikes’ lead. The Patriots fouled for the last two minutes, hoping the Vikes would miss their free throws and turn over the ball, but the Vikes remained calm, hitting their free throws and keeping the lead to win the game.

“My teammates did an excellent job sharing the ball and looking for me inside,” Bass said. “We just have to keep using our size and ability to score and guard on defense, and we should be able to get that regional championship.”

Bass led the team offensively, scoring 15 points, while guard Jaden Pierce added 13 points, in addition to playing aggressive defense.

The Vikes next face the Churchill Bulldogs (16–7) in the regional finals Thursday at 7 p.m. at Churchill High School.