LINDSBORG — The Smoky Valley High School girls basketball team, who came into Friday night’s contest with one win, gave second-ranked Clay Center all it could handle.
The Vikings rode hot shooting early on to a first quarter lead. The game was still well within reach at halftime, but the experience and talent of Clay Center wore on the Vikings in the second half, as Smoky Valley fell 42-32 in Lindsborg.
Vikings head coach John Bellah knows his team had opportunities to stick with the Tigers, but is content with his team’s effort.
“Our shooting went south after the first half,” Bellah said. “We were playing intense defensively. We did what we needed to do, but we just couldn’t make shots in the second half.”
Smoky Valley nailed three 3-pointers in the first quarter, each triple giving the Vikings a lead.
Jordan Otto gave the Vikings a 3-2 lead with an early 3-pointer. Haven Sjogren put Smoky Valley back on top, 8-6, with a 3-pointer a few minutes later. Finally, Kerington Haxton broke a tie game with a 3-pointer to give the Vikings an 11-8 lead.
However, Clay Center would score the quarter’s final five points to lead 13-11 after one.
After Amanda Behanna tied the game at 13, Clay Center outscored Smoky Valley 7-2 over the remainder of the second quarter. The Vikings trailed 20-15 at halftime.
The third quarter was ultimately the dagger for Smoky Valley. Clay Center won the quarter 14-7 and never looked back.
The Vikings continued to fight in the fourth quarter, winning the final eight minutes, 10-8. That did not go unnoticed by the home crowd or Bellah.
“We might be outmatched, but we’re never going to quit and we’re going to play to the end,” Bellah said. “The only things we can control are our effort and attitude, and I thought we did a nice job with that.”
Behanna led the Vikings charge with 10 points, while Jacque Hulse scored seven.
Smoky Valley is next in action on Tuesday when the Vikings head to Hoisngton.
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