It may have been the Super Bowl weekend and the hope of Big Blue's fortune spreading to the local Blue, or it may have just been hard work and dedication by the varsity boys that almost pulled off the upset of the winter campaign. Given the recent performances of the Vikings in their last few games, not many of the Port faithful gave the hometown club much of a chance against the omnipotent Freeport Red Devils, but a little more guile and some sound free throw shooting would have translated into a major upset league-wide and a big boost for the basketball fanatics of our bailiwick. Despite a lot of heart and intestinal fortitude, the boys didn't have enough fuel to ride out as victors.
The game began rather "matter of factly" as the opposing team got off to a quick start (as opposing teams had done in previous weeks; 5-0 in this case) and the Vikings were compelled to play a come-from-behind, fast and loose tempo. The only difference between this and previous contests was that this time their execution was flawless. Port went on a 10-0 run leaving the Red Devils to wonder what had happened to their pitchforks. Three early buckets from Dumpson, and a "three" from Mulqueen pushed the Vikings out in front 15-10 by the end of the first quarter. The fans appeared ready for a shocker, but the Freeport club simply would not stand for it. They went on a 10-0 run of their own to start the second period, and suddenly Port was shaking its heads looking for a answers. The Vikings didn't convert a field goal until midway in, and that was just to stop the bleeding. Port, however, was not about to go away as Ross laid one in as the buzzer sounded to pull them to a 25-23 deficit.
The third quarter resembled an exercise in futility as both sides executed poor half-court offenses and did little to establish a perimeter pass route. The Vikings committed way too many fouls, and found themselves on the defensive rather than on a fluid transition game. Although the Red Devils didn't perform to their highest of expectations, this team is clearly well-disciplined as they committed only two fouls the entire second half. The Vikings did stay tough on the boards (Ferrucci grabbed 7 and Guillaume, 6) that kept Port within reach at 36-33 as they entered the fourth.
Freeport's club did remain focused and displayed why they're one of the better teams in the conference. They played within their game by playing "their" game. They went to their offensive juggernaut guard Bell (who finished with 21; 3 threes) and big man, Matthews who's ubiquitous inside "D" precluded the Vikings from scoring easy hoops. Freeport's seven-point lead with 2:48 to play seemed well in hand, but Port would not acquiesce as they dropped in two more buckets of their own. The fan contingent was primed and ready to roar, but Freeport's paint defense wouldn't allow but a whisper even with Dumpson scoring 16 and Ferrucci, 10. They prevented any kind of florid penetration and when the Vikings did, the Red Devils were there to thwart away the jumpers. In retrospect, it is always the game within the game that ultimately decides the game. Port missed on six free throws, and it would be prudent for the boys to emphasize a little more concentration on that aspect of the game. The Red Devils might be wearing the Vikings' horns if they had.