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John L. Braese
After seeing the visiting Nyssa Bulldogs put up 36 points in the first half in an Eastern Oregon League rivalry game, the Viking defense held the Dawgs to only five points in the third quarter on the way to a 57-52 victory.
Shira, not pleased with his team’s defense in the first half, decided to pull all his starters to start the third quarter.
“For us to put something together, it all has to start with defense,” Shira said. “This team finally responded in the second half and played like I know we can.”
The two rivals traded baskets back and forth to start the game and Nyssa led 19-15 after the first quarter was played. The Bulldogs extended the margin to 36-24 at the half.
Vale cut the lead to a single point as the fourth quarter started at 41-40. The Vikings grabbed the lead, 42-41 early in the fourth with a bucket by Diesel Johnson. At the 5 minute, 50 second mark, the board read 46 points for each team before Vale’s Colten Stepleton sank a shot to give the Vikings back the lead for good at 5:21.
Johnson matched his 17 minutes of play with 17 points to lead Vale. Sophomore Skyler Cade saw a breakout game for the Vikings, hitting three shots outside the perimeter and ending with 13 points. Stepleton ended his night with nine points.
In the loss, the Bulldogs saw Ronaldo Beuno put in 14 points. Zach Kausler and Orin Stipe each had 10 points.
“I hope we learned how to play teams that scout us,” Shira said. “We have the talent on this team, but we need to hold teams in this league to scoring in the 40’s consistently.”
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