By William /

LINDSBORG – Playing a top-four ranked team you must have a near perfect game to win and the Smoky Valley girls fell just eight points short of that perfect game on Friday as the fourth ranked Nickerson girls came into Lindsborg and gained a 69-61 win over the Lady Vikings.

The Lady Vikings had a near perfect first quarter and led Nickerson by five, 23-18 at the end of it before the visitors took the lead by one point, 34-33 going into the halftime break.

After the break, Smoky Valley put up 28 points which in many cases would have been enough, but against Nickerson it just was not as they scored 35 to earn the final eight-point victory over the Lady Vikings.

“It was a great game,” noted Lady Viking head coach Jason Drouillard. “Both teams had to play great to beat the other and it was a great display of high school basketball at its finest. The environment was amazing, and we appreciated the energy the crowd brought to the game.”

Nickerson’s all-state center, Ava Jones was just too much for the Lady Vikings as her 26 points helped the visitors hold a 34-18 advantage in scoring within the paint.

The loss dampened a pair of monster nights for both Adrian Hazelwood and Abby Rose as the duo scored 24 and 19 points, respectively, to lead the Lady Vikings. Rose knocked down five three-pointers while Hazelwood made three.

Hazelwood also grabbed five rebounds, dished out six assists, made a pair of steals and blocked a shot, while Rose had four rebounds and two blocked shots.

Breanna Priddy may have been held down scoring, but she led Smoky Valley with six rebounds while grabbing a pair of steals and a blocked shot on defense, while Keira Mullen tied Hazelwood for the team lead in assists with six. The Lady Vikings dished out 19 assists on 24 made shots, a true team effort.

Coach Drouillard concluded his post-game reflections by adding, “We are so proud of the girls for how hard and well they played. They gave it absolutely everything they had with every bit of intensity they could bring. I could not have asked more from them. The girls shot confidently and bought into the game plan on the defensive side. Although we will never accept losing, we know that if we continue to play like we did on Friday, we’ll be a very hard team to beat going forward.”

The loss drops the Lady Vikings to 12-5 for the season as they now prep for a road trip to Pratt on Tuesday.

SCORING:                 1          2          3          4          FINAL

Nickerson                  18       16       14       21       69

LADY VIKINGS          23       10       12       16       61

Nickerson Team Stats = FG 25/58 (43%); 3-PTR 7/23 (30%); FT 12/15 (80%); AST 21; RBS 34; TO 8; STLS 4; BLK 5; PF 9.

SMOKY VALLEY LADY VIKINGS TEAM STATS = FG 24/56 (43%); 3-PTR 9/18 (50%); FT 4/7 (57%; AST 19; RBS 28; TO 10; STLS 4; BLK 4; PF 12.

SMOKY VALLEY LADY VIKING INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS = SCORING (61 total points): Adrian Hazelwood – 24; Abby Rose – 19; Keira Mullen – 8; Breanna Priddy – 4; Gracie Lambert – 4; Maliyah Koster – 2. 3-POINTERS MADE (9): Rose – 5; Hazelwood – 3; Mullen – 1. ASSISTS: Hazelwood, Mullen – 6; Priddy, Koster – 2. REBOUNDS: Priddy – 6; Hazelwood – 5; Rose – 4; Koster – 3; Mullen, Lambert – 2. STEALS: Hazelwood, Priddy – 2. BLOCKED SHOTS: Rose – 2; Hazelwood, Priddy – 1.