LINDSBORG — The Smoky Valley High School boys basketball team had all day to work around the absence of leading scorer Nick Reinert.
The absence of Reinert was also the absence of 15 points a game. When he was ruled out Tuesday afternoon with an illness, the Vikings knew someone would have to step up. In came Ryan Weldy.
The senior scored a game high 19 points but it was in vain as the Vikings dropped a competitive 54-46 game to Hutchinson Trinity Tuesday night.
The two teams met last Tuesday in the opening round of the Sterling Invitational, only to see the Vikings fall short in overtime. The second meeting was every bit as close as the first one, but Trinity made a few more plays down the stretch which turned out to be the difference.
“I thought we competed extremely well, I thought our effort was tremendous,” head coach Doug Schneider said. “You never want to be without a guy like Nick Reinert, but at the same time we knew early in the day we would be without him. The guys had a chance to mentally prepare, and I thought we did a really nice job.”
Smoky Valley played their best basketball of the game in the first four minutes, jumping out to an 11-4 lead. Trinity began to use a press that forced the Vikings into a few turnovers the remainder of the quarter. And although Trinity was not taking advantage of the Vikings’ miscues, the turnovers were keeping the Vikings from pulling away.
Ben Weldy drained a 3-pointer early in the second quarter to extend the SVHS lead to six. That was the last moment the Vikings held a lead that large.
Trinity fired back with a 13-6 run which led to their first lead at the 1:30 mark of the half. Ryan Weldy calmly knocked down a three on the ensuing possession to stop the bleeding, but Trinity scored on their final possession to take a 27-26 lead into the break.
Neither team gained a stranglehold in the third quarter. The Vikings went into the third quarter down by one, and left the third quarter down by one.
But things began to get away from the Vikings early in the fourth quarter. Trinity would sneak out to a four point lead, only to see the Vikings answer back with a bucket.
Trinity’s lead never grew beyond four until under two minutes to play. By that time, Trinity was in the double bonus and the Vikings were forced to foul.
Trinity made their free throws down the stretch to give Smoky Valley its second straight loss.
“We’re focused right now on doing the things we need to do well; if we do those things well the wins will come,” Schneider said. “We’re going to get back to work tomorrow and work on some of the things we need to work on as a team.”
Brett Heitschmidt scored 15 points and was a nice complement to Weldy. No other Viking scored more than five points.
The Vikings look to right the ship on Friday when they travel to Clay Center.