By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity boys’ basketball team didn’t go down without a fight in the first round of District play against Paw Paw.
The Bulldogs played a wild rollercoaster of a game that couldn’t be resolved in regulation time. Vicksburg ultimately lost to the Redskins 59-52 in overtime. “They played their hearts out,” Head Coach Jeff Lovell said of his team’s performance.
Vicksburg jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter of the game, but it quickly became apparent Paw Paw wasn’t going to go away quietly. The score was 12-11 in the Bulldog’s favor after one quarter. In the second it was all Paw Paw and they stretched out their lead to seven points at halftime.
It set the stage for a spectacular second half of the game where the two sides traded leads multiple times. Leading the scoring for the Bulldogs was senior CJ Laske, who put up 20 points for the team. Fellow senior Garrett Ketelaar was shut down by the Redskin defense before putting up 12 points in the second half of the game to keep Vicksburg right in the thick of things.
The Bulldogs also saw some outstanding defense from brothers Tyler and James Kienbaum, especially in the game’s later minutes.
Vicksburg was up by as many as four points with seven minutes to go before Paw Paw cut it to one before tying the score 50-50 with just 1:13 left in the game. The Redskins had the ball for the last 22 seconds of the game, but the Bulldog defense shut them down to force overtime.
The Bulldogs won the tip-off in overtime and had the first chance to score, but the ball became wedged between the backboard and rim. After that, Paw Paw’s defense seemed to clamp down and Vicksburg only scored two points on a couple of free throws during the extra time period.
The Bulldogs finish the season with a 6-15 record, but that record wasn’t really indicative of how good the team actually was. Many of their losses this year were close games just like this and there was no doubt Vicksburg gave Paw Paw quite the scare in the game. “We had our chances,” Lovell said.