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Vikings top Tigers 47-44

February 03, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

HOLTVILLE — The Holtville High School boys basketball team took the lead, lost it, then took it back after a breathtaking final 42 seconds of action in a 47-44 victory over Imperial here Friday.

Down five with 42 seconds remaining, the Vikings (3-12 overall, 2-1 Desert League) put on a flurry of offense and defense to close the gap.

Viking Jacob Freeman cut the lead to four with a free throw and Holtville got the ball back when Alex Perez stole a pass during Imperial's ensuing possession.

Attempting to pull within two, Freeman put up a shot from the baseline that was blocked. He recovered the ball with 25 seconds to play and found Michael Strong for a three-pointer, cutting the deficit to one with 23 seconds to go.

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Imperial (8-13, 1-2) called timeout to stop the Vikings' burst. However, on the ensuing play Freeman pilfered a pass, took the ball upcourt and found Preston George for a short jumper to take the lead 45-44 with 18 seconds to play.

Freeman, who led his team with 13 points, sealed the victory when he grabbed a rebound off a Tiger miss with six seconds to play, got fouled and put in two free throws.

Imperial set up to a launch a three-pointer, but Holtville's defense held.

"They stepped it up on defense and we haven't been able to play defense for a long time," Imperial coach David Milan said. "They had the intensity at the end of the game and we didn't."

Said Holtville coach John Reschert: "For the first time we were able to put some pressure on Imperial and they made some costly mistakes, and then we made free throws down the stretch. We shot the ball better at the end of the game than in the whole first half."

The Vikings grabbed a 13-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the second period belonged to the Tigers.

Behind two baskets by David Thomas, who led Imperial with 14 points, the Tigers used a 13-7 quarter to bring the match to 25-20 at the break. Imperial went to the free throw line 10 times during the period.

"Our press forced some turnovers and we got a couple easy baskets in the first half," Milan said. "In the second half, however, when they broke our press and we had to set up in our half-court defense, we didn't play as well."

Physical play dominated the third period with the Vikings able to make up just one point in the 9-8 quarter. The score was 33-29.

Both teams picked it up in the final stanza.

Starting the fourth quarter with a four-point lead, the Tigers went to work. Thomas and Brenden Lopez helped Imperial build its lead to seven. But Holtville, behind Eric Cueto, who had 13 points, and Freeman, kept the team within striking distance.

The Tigers hit a bucket to push their lead back to five — 44-39 with 42 seconds to play.

"Losing to Calipatria at home was tough because we have a tough second-half schedule ahead of us," said Reschert, whose team will play the rest of its games on the road. "By beating Imperial, the kids now know they can win. Now we're going to get some serious effort to push for league."

The Vikings will return to action for the second half of the DL season on Tuesday when it travels to Calexico to face Vincent Memorial at 7 p.m.

Imperial will return home to try and pull its DL record to .500 against Calipatria at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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