MIKE ANDERTON | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The “regular” phase of the 2012-13 Viking basketball season ended last week with the girls on a roll and the boys in decline. The girls crushed two opponents on the road to nail down second place in Wesco North and earn a home opener in the playoffs, while the boys dropped their final two home games to sink into fourth place in the standings, relegating themselves to playing at undefeated Jackson in the post-season opener.
Lake Girls 57 at Mt. Vernon 37 (January 29)
Lake had no problem whatsoever in dispatching the Bulldogs, cruising to a 29-15 haltime lead and 43-21 after three quarters.
Brooke Pahukoa continued to regain her form following a six-game absence due to injury, leading Lake in scoring with 15 points. Emily Vandegrift with 12 and Brittney Pahukoa with 11 points were Lake’s other double-figure scorers.
Lake Girls 61 at Monroe 29 (January 31)
Lake made a statement that it is ready to make a serious run in the playoffs by destroying a Monroe team that had been holding its opponents to 33 points a game.
The Vikings started slowly, leading by just 11-8 after one quarter but shifted into high gear in the second, outscoring the Bearcats by 22-4 for a 21-point halftime lead. Viking defense created havoc, with the Pahukoa sisters accounting for 10 steals between them in the first half alone.
Cassidy Fifield, promoted earlier in the season from the JV squad, came off the bench in the second quarter to score seven quick points to help fuel her team’s offensive explosion.
Lake didn’t let up in the second half, leading by 43-20 after three quarters and outscoring Monroe by 18-9 in the fourth.
Brooke finished with 24 points and center Kali Long scored 12 along with eight rebounds. Long is a key to Lake’s hopes of advancing to the State Tournament. She’s one of Wesco’s best rebounders and if she can convert some of her shots from inside the paint she will play a vital role from here on.
Lake’s sixth straight win pushed its regular season record to 14-6 overall (10-4 in Wesco North).
Mt. Vernon 53 at Lake boys 46 (January 28)
Guard Dakota Tomson sat this one out with a slightly rolled ankle and as a result Lake floundered on offense. Even so, the Vikings had plenty of chances to pull the game out, but turnovers and missed free throws proved fatal.
Guard Devin Stoen was forced to carry the majority of the offense but he was able to convert only nine of 29 shots, good for 22 points. Jared Rahn contributed 12 points and Moussa Sanoh came up with 12 rebounds but the overall team effort fell short.
The loss was especially disappointing in that Lake started very well, hitting nine of 15 shots in the first quarter for a 19-9 lead. Stoen hit his first four shots including a three, but he struggled in the middle portion of the game, missing 14 of his next 15 shots.
The second quarter was a disaster for Lake, which was outscored by Mt. Vernon 15-0 until Stoen’s three beat the halftime buzzer.
The third quarter wasn’t much better, which saw the Bulldogs take a 39-29 lead into the fourth.
Lake finally revived to make a game of it when Stoen hit two quick shots to open the fourth and Rahn’s three with 1:18 left cut the gap to 47-41.
Stoen’s driving lay-in with 58 seconds left made it 48-43 and Brice Dodge’s three with 36 seconds to go brought lake to within 50-46. But Lake couldn’t score again while Mt. Vernon converted five of six free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Monroe 62 at Lake 58 (January 30)
In a season filled with close losses this was perhaps the bitterest one of all. Lake would have captured third place in Wesco North with a win, thus avoiding having to play at Jackson in the playoffs opener, but the Vikings couldn’t get it done. Monroe made the big plays in the game’s waning moments while Lake, once again, barely fell short.
The quarter scores reveal just how close this one was from start to finish. Lake led by 11-10 after one. It was 22-all at halftime and 40-all after three. Lake led a couple of times early in the final period and Monroe’s four-point winning margin was its largest lead.
Seven points by Sanoh and six by Stoen in the period kept Lake within striking distance. Rahn’s three point play with 3:21 left narrowed Monroe’s lead to 52-51 but that’s the closest Lake was able to get for the rest of the game. Tomson returned to the lineup for this game but missed all four of his fourth quarter shots.
Between them, Tomson and Stoen combined to make 10 of 30 shots for the game. The tandem also paired for nine assists and seven turnovers. Stoen scored 17 points, Tomson 11. Also in double figures were Ryan Lian with 11 points and Rahn with 10. Sanoh had nine rebounds, Rahn eight, Lian six.
Lake finished the regular season at 7-13 overall, 5-9 in Wesco play.