In the nightcap Monday night, the Northeast Viking boys missed 10 free throws and several opportunities to build on its 21-15 halftime lead, as the Liberal Bulldogs outscored Northeast 17-7 in the third quarter en route to a 44-36 win.
You could tell it was one of those nights when Liberal junior guard Triston Mohlfield banked in his only three points of the game at the third quarter buzzer, giving Liberal a 32-28 advantage. A defensive shift helped Liberal change the flow of the game after halftime.
“They went to the zone and that caused us a few problems,” Northeast head coach Matt Hiatt said. “We had a few turnovers against it but all in all, I thought our kids played hard tonight. We don’t have anything to be ashamed of . . . we need to do a better job with the little things. Knocking down some free throws tonight would have helped and a few less turnovers and attacking the zone a little better. We’re young, we haven’t worked a lot against the zone but it’s something that we’re going to get better at.”
Northeast won its first three games of the season against Bronaugh (Mo.), Marmaton Valley and West Elk. The Vikings lost to Olpe on Friday for the Marmaton Valley Tournament championship and Monday night to cross-state rival Liberal.
Northeast plays its final game of December on Friday against Chetopa at home.
“We played three times last week,” Hiatt said. “It just doesn’t seem we’ve had a chance to have practice that wasn’t pregame or postgame or something like that. We’ve got three before Friday and we need that. There’s a whole laundry list of things that we can work on to get better.”
Noah Popejoy finished with a near double-double of 12 points and nine rebounds and fellow junior J.T. Richardson came off the bench with nine points.
Troy Howard and Antonio Slingluff both finished with six, Slingluff with all six early in the game on a pair of 3-point shots.
“I’m proud of the effort we gave,” Hiatt said. “I thought our kids played extremely hard. Noah played well for us tonight. J.T.’s battling some sickness but he was out there and gutted it out. We just didn’t have anybody else step up tonight and contribute offensively with them.”
Garrett Miller and Colin McNaught each led the Bulldogs with 11 points. McNaught scored eight in the third quarter and Eli Short (six), Jake Dalby (five) and Mohlfield (three) scored all of their points after halftime as Liberal broke free of the Northeast defensive pressure for enough looks.
Liberal (Mo.) girls 54, Northeast 20
At the 1:56 mark of the first quarter, Northeast was ahead of Liberal 11-9, after sophomore point guard Kaylee Bogina made her second 3.
Page 2 of 2 - However, for the last 25:56 of the game, the guests outscored the Vikings 45-9 and Northeast committed more turnovers after halftime than it scored points, 16-5. The home team ended with 27 turnovers.
Bogina led the 1-4 Vikings with 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half. Jaycie Polhlopek added three.
Rachel Dugan paced a balanced Liberal attack with 13 points and Shaylee Stanley had 11, McKenna Higgins 10, Taylor Gazaway seven, Nicole Sprenkle seven and Baylee Robertson six.