John C. Longton
After getting pummeled by eighth ranked Herkimer 95-56 last Saturday, the men’s basketball team has responded well and put together three wins in a row.
After their Saturday loss, the team had to hit the road and face a 9-8 Broome team in Binghamton. In that game, the Vikings defeated the Hornets in overtime, 83-75, but getting to overtime didn’t seem like it was going to happen.
With 10 seconds left, the Vikings trailed 71-68 and looked as if they were going to be handed their second loss in a row. Freshman John Palmer from East Greenbush, received a pass from freshman Jordan Nelson from Troy, and put the team on his back, hitting a three with a man in his face to send the game into an extra period.
“It was a crazy shot. I’m just happy Jordan passed me the ball,” said John. “I didn’t really have a good look, but I shot it anyway.” John didn’t have time to think about his shot when the ball left his hand. “I just tried to get back on defense so they couldn’t do the same thing to us,” he said.
Palmer totaled 18 in the game and the Vikings outscored the Hornets 12-4 in overtime. That was due in large part to freshman Diamond Corker from Scotia. Corker came off the bench and had five of his nine points in overtime. Freshman Kleon Davis from East Greenbush, was the Viking’s leading scorer with 19 points.
On Wednesday, the team traveled up to North to face the Adirondack Timber for their second road game in a row. They handed the Timber a 12 point loss and won 71-59. The Vikings were up by 11 at the half and weren’t really threatened in the contest.
John Palmer led the Vikings with 16 points, five more than his season season average of 11. Freshman Kabongo Ngalakuandi from Manchester, N.H., also scored over his average, adding 14 points. Freshman Kevin Lenehan from Duanesburg, chipped in 12 and Kleon Davis and Jordan Nelson both had 10 in the win.
The young team seemed to be hitting their stride just in time to host their long time Route 7 rival, the Schenectady Royals.
The Royals traveled to Troy to face the Vikings at home this past Saturday, on community day. There was free food in the foyer and the Vikings were serving up their own dishes on the court. They flushed the Royals with a 29 point victory beating them 99-70. Davis led all scorers with 25 points.
“I felt great today. I filled the lanes, and John gave me the ball. I probably got him like eight assists,” said Davis. Talking about his team. Davis went on to say, “When we first started we had a bunch of good players, but we didn’t really all know each other. Now we bonded more, we hang out all the time and we play together more. We play team ball.”
The Viking’s team didn’t have a returning player on its roster, but these kids have gelled together as if they’ve been playing on a team since AAU.
Also in the game against the Royals,Ngalakuandi totaled 15 points. Lenehan got into foul trouble early and didn’t play much in the first half. Lenehan scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and when he was on the court his presence was felt.
“I love playing with these guys. This is probably the best team I’ve ever been on,” said Lenehan. “We all know how each other plays and we are ready.” In terms of Kevin’s goals for the rest of the season he says, “We have six games left and our goal is to win the rest of these games and do great in the playoffs.”
“It’s a pleasure to see and it brings a smile to my face,” said head coach Mike Long on how well his team is playing together. “Just to see the comradery that they have. They all really like each other and are pulling for each other. John Palmer is leading the team in scoring and today he probably had five or six points and he’s asking me how many assists did I get? That meant more to him than being the leading scorer.”
Long’s team has come together and really grew up quite quickly over the season. They have seven regular season games left before regional play begins. If they keep progressing and playing the way they are they have a shot to go deep in the playoffs and possibly make nationals.
They have two home games in the next two days: tonight, Feb. 2, where they host SUNY Orange at 7 p.m., and tomorrow, Feb. 3, where they welcome Clinton. Go out now and catch a game and support a Viking team that has the potential to have a historic season.