Lights go out for Bluejays, fall 72-66 to Vikings
WORTHINGTON -- In a wild game, which was delayed twice due to a city-wide power outage causing the lights to go out at the Minnesota West gymnasium, the Itasca Vikings prevailed in community college men's basketball action Saturday afternoon, earning a 72-66 victory over Minnesota West.
Isaiah Farrar, a 6-5 sophomore from St. Paul Como Park High School, had a tremendous all-around game for the Vikings. Farrar scored 27 of his team's first 54 points and finished the game with 32 points and 16 rebounds.
"He is a good all-around player," noted West head coach Justin Heckenlaible. "He was able to penetrate and score, as well as shoot from the outside. He seemed to get points for them whenever they needed them."
Bluejay sophomore Chris Aggen, who finished with 17 points -- including four 3-pointers, did a nice job on Farrar in the game's last 12 minutes.
A quick drive to the hoop by Farrar had given his team a 54-44 lead with 11:58 to play. That basket gave the Vikings their biggest lead of the second half and also moved Farrar's point total to 27.
But at that point, the Bluejays mounted their second strong comeback of the contest -- sparked by a trio of plays by freshman guard Jeron Clark, along with the defensive work of Aggen on Farrar.
"Chris really did a nice job on Farrar down the stretch," praised Heckenlaible. "He was able to neutralize him some and really challenged Farrar's outside shots."
Farrar only scored five points in the game's last 12 minutes.
Clark found a wide-open Justin Lee in the lane for two points to start the Bluejay surge and then scored himself off a steal to close Itasca's lead to 54-48.
After a defensive rebound by Lee (eight points, six rebounds), Clark fired an assist pass down the sideline to Aggen, who scored on a lay-up and was fouled. Aggen's 3-point play capped a 7-0 MW run and cut the Viking lead to 54-51 with 10:07 to play.
A free throw by Bluejay freshman Kirk Eggleston trimmed the margin to 54-52. But Itasca responded with a free throw -- after one of its 22 offensive rebounds -- and then converted a fastbreak to go back up by five, 57-52, with 8:42 left.
A minute later, the Bluejays tied the game at 57-all, as Aggen came through with two big plays.
The former Worthington Trojan sharpshooter ripped the ball away from the Vikings in transition and fired a beautiful one-handed pass to teammate Gordy Sanford for a 2-point bucket and then his high-arching 3-pointer -- off an assist pass from Aaron Delany -- knotted the game.
But as they had done all game long, the Vikings responded, as Farrar scored with 7:-02 left to play, giving Itasca a 59-57 edge. Lee fouled out 27 seconds later and a Viking free throw extended the lead to 60-57.
A pair of free throws by Sanford brought the Bluejays back to within one, and after another free throw by Itasca, Sanford -- who had a team-high 21 points and a team-leading eight rebounds -- tied the score at 61-all with a nifty turn-around jumper with five minutes to play.
Sanford scored again at the 3:18 mark to tie the game for the last time, at 63-63.
A nice dish from Devon Knight to R.J.Wilkins gave Itasca a 65-63 edge with 2:52 to play. Sanford made one free throw 50 seconds later to trim to lead to 65-64, but the Bluejays twice were unable to regain the lead.
With 1:20 to play, the Vikings had the lead and the ball. Wilkins came up big again -- scoring on an offensive rebound with 56 seconds left, putting Itasca up three, 67-64.
A 3-point attempt by Aggen just missed the mark and a Viking free throw with 36 seconds to play, gave the visitors a 68-64 cushion. Twenty-five seconds later, Farrar sank a pair from the line and the Vikings were up six, 70-64, with 11 seconds to play.
A slashing slam-dunk by Sanford made the score 70-66 with six seconds showing, before two more free throws by Itasca ended the game with the six-point Viking win.
"We could not get shots to fall when we needed them," said Heckenlaible. "We did a lot of good things and had two strong rallies, but we were not able to hit the clutch shot at game's end."
An Aggen 3-pointer had given the Bluejays an early 5-4 lead, but the Vikings -- paced by Farrar -- went on a 24-12 run to open up a 28-17 advantage with 6:50 to play in the first half.
That's when West went on its first rally -- going on a 14-4 run of its own, trimming the lead to 32-31 by the 2:53 mark.
A second-effort inside by Eggleston resulted in a Bluejay free throw, Aggen kicked a pass out to Sanford in the corner for a basket, Eggleston drained a pair from the line and an Aggen 3-pointer made the score 30-25 with 4;27 left in the half.
A pair of free throws by Sanford and a driving jumper off the glass by Delaney brought the Bluejays to within three, 32-29 with 3:07 to play.
Aggen's two free throws made it 32-31 14 seconds later, but a basket by Farrar put the Vikings up, 34-31.
Aggen drilled another 3-pointer to tie the score at 34-all with 1:50 left in the half, but the Vikings took a 36-34 lead and as the Bluejays came down the court -- the lights went out, as the ice storm outside caused the same to happen all over Worthington.
After about a 25-minute delay, the lights came back on -- for just 11 seconds, from the 1:14 mark until 1:03 showed on the clock.
But during that time, the Bluejays responded well, as Devon Harrell (from French Lick, Indiana -- home of Larry Bird) sank a 3-pointer and was fouled, giving MW a 37-36 lead.
The lights went out again before Harrell could shoot his free throw.
After another 25-minute delay, the lights came back to stay. Harrell made his free throw, completing a 4-point play and giving the Bluejays a 38-36 edge.
A free throw by Clark gave West a 39-36 halftime lead.
After the Vikings scored to open the second half, the Bluejays took another three point lead when Sanford fed Lee on a nice high-low play. But the Vikings rallied to tie the game at 41-all, before going on a 13-3 run to open up their 54-44 lead.
"We did a good job of rebounding today," said Itasca head coach John Bauer. "We were outrebounded 2-1 (60-30) by Ridgewater Friday night, so we had a little talk about that and our team really responded today."
The Vikings (2-3) won the battle of the boards by a 51-35 margin, also getting 11 rebounds from Jemal Amos-Demmaj.
The Bluejays (2-4) played without high-scoring guard Eddie Marrs, who injured his knee in Friday's game against Northland.
Marrs, who averaged 23 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.5 steals for the Bluejays last week, was named the Southern Division Player-of-the-Week.
"Playing without Eddie's scoring and penetrating was an adjustment," noted Heckenlaible. "But we stepped up and competed well."
The Bluejays host Dakota Wesleyan's JV in a rematch Tuesday. West dropped a five-point decision at Mitchell in the season-opener, Nov. 7.
Itasca 36 36 -- 72
MW 39 27 -- 66
Itasca (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Farrar 3-10-3-32, Kruchten 0-2-2-6, Knight 1-0-1-4, Amos-Demmaj 0-3-3-9, Wilkins 0-3-0-6, Gibeau 1-2-2-9, Collins 0-3-0-6. Totals: 4-23-11-72.
MW (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Harrell 3-0-1-10, Delaney 0-1-1-3, Aggen 4-1-3-17, Sanford 1-6-6-21, Clark 0-1-1-3, Eggleston 0-0-4, Lee 0-4-0-8. Totals: 8-13-16-66