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Predicting the outcome of a high school basketball game may not be the easiest contest to forecast, but one hardly had to be a swami to see that Port was going to have its hands full during the pre-game warm-up. In the case of the Vikings vs. Hawks last Friday night, one need only look at the Hawks' seven-foot center. Dave Bizgia, and one could smell the sweet odor of victory permeating the Hawks' huddle. It's not so much that their center possessed great poise or athletic skills, but he owned the paint on defense and his offensive presence provoked Port double teams that allowed the Hawks to set up open 12-footers. The 17-point drubbing did have its bright moments, particularly when the Vikings overcame a 14-point deficit to pull it to four, but too many traveling violations and some troubling flagrant fouls put the Vikings in a hole too steep to emerge victoriously.

Both clubs played a straddling defense from the get go in fear that the opposing club would pull off an insurmountable run. The Hawks went to their big man early, but Angelo Ferrucci's swarming defensive approach was admirable even though he was giving away eight inches to his counterpart. Bizgia had a few early buckets and some defensive swats, but the hawks went to their perimeter game to counter Port's ubiquitous paint presence. Quentin Dumpson was the game's high scorer with 20 and his early baskets kept Port in the game as the first quarter concluded with the Vikings down 14-10. The second quarter moved slowly and sloppily as they were hit with four traveling violations. Someone needs to remind these high school players that they have to put the ball on the floor before they move their pivot feet. Plainview was not immune as they were called for three violations in this game as well.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Port's play, however, came when they were hit with two flagrant fouls in the second quarter. It makes this writer wonder exactly how much that these students are learning from the NBA. If you follow the pro game, you'll witness traveling violations that are rarely called and cheap shot artistry where it has no place. Sure it makes for great opening highlights on ESPN, but the fundamental aspects of basketball are being lost somewhere in the translation. The first half came to a close with Port down 29-20 and a lot of fans shaking their heads.

The second half began with Port moving well on the break and pulling the score to 33-29 midway through the third. But when the Hawks gained dribble penetration and kicked it over to Mike Harris (who scored 14 in addition to Bizgia's 16), they went on a 12-3 run that propelled the Vikings to look for the exit doors. The fourth quarter proved to be an exercise in Hawk self-indulgence as Bizgia threw down a couple of dunks and smacked away a couple of offerings. The Vikings can hope for better luck by applying the same effort without the same theatrics.


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