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VALE – The phrase “street fight” was used on social media around the state describing the first-round matchup between the visiting Amity Warriors and the hometown Vale Vikings in the first round of the 3A basketball tournament. There were technical fouls called. The officials did give out warnings to fans in the stands. Many of the plays took place with only six players upright while four, sometimes five lay sprawled on the floor. “Street fight” may not accurately describe the first-round game, but the term “physical” can certainly be bantered about. After the dust settled, the Vikings advance to Coos Bay and the final eight after a 60-42 victory.
The Warriors were first on the score board with a long three by Logan Grove with just under one minute and one-half off the clock. The Vikings went to their inside game for Vale’s first points as Colten Stepleton picked up his first points of the game. Vale picked up the lead at the 4 minute, 20 second mark, 4-3, off a short jumper by Diesel Johnson. At the end of the first quarter, Vale led 11-5.
The officiating crew was busy the first half as the two teams combined for 17 total fouls. At the half, Vale maintained a 25-17 margin.
Just 20 seconds into the second half, Vale’s John Wolfe started the Vikings off with a run with a basket. The Vikings outscored the Warriors 20 to 13 in the third quarter and kept the pressure on in the final eight minutes with 15 points. With the clock winding down, starters for both teams went to their respective benches due to fouls. Vale and Amity combined for 22 fouls in the second half.
“It was pretty physical tonight,” said Stepleton, who along with Kade Kurata led Vale, each with 15 points. “I thought we started better tonight than we did in the last game against Umatilla. I am just so excited we are heading to Coos Bay.”
In addition to Stepleton and Kurata, Vale’s Tanner Steele ended the game with 11 points, seven of those coming from the free throw line. The Vikings went to the free throw line a total of 29 times, connecting on 18 for 62 percent.
“After our start against Umatilla, I was very pleased with how we came out tonight,” said Vale head coach Colby Shira. “We missed some easy buckets the first three or four minutes, but our defense was locked in from the beginning.”
Shira said the plan for the Vikings was to keep the ball out of the hands of Amity’s Grove. He ended the night with nine points and the Viking defense did not allow any Amity player into double figures for scoring.
“Once Diesel (Johnson) and John (Wolfe) got into foul trouble, Colton (Stepleton) and Kade (Kurata) were huge for us,” said Shira. “Kade had a double double for us.”
“Amity is a well-coached team and I have tremendous respect for Coach Nelson,” continued Shira. “To beat a team like Amity shows just where Vale is right now.”
Amity headed home with a 12-11 record the season and four seniors playing their final game.
Sixth-ranked Vale will be at North Bend High School on Thursday, March 3 for a 6:30 p.m. game versus third-ranked Dayton, a 57-47 winner over Catlin Gabel in round one.
“Dayton is a lot like Baker with speed and quickness,” Shira said. “I like our matchups in this game.”
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