A turn for the worse

Published 10:13 am Saturday, December 11, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Niles looked like a completely different team Friday night than the one that eased past a bigger, stronger and quicker South Bend (Ind.) Washington Tuesday.
The change was for the worst.
The Vikings trailed from the start of the game and lost 66-51 on the road to Lakeshore in the Lancers' season-opener.
Niles hit just 25 percent of its field goals and missed 14 straight shots during a dry-spell that spanned the first two quarters. The shooting woes came after the Vikings hit more than half their shots Tuesday against the Panthers.
One person in attendance at Tuesday's victory over Washington was Lakeshore head coach Sean Schroeder. Schroeder, although Niles had one game under its belt that the Lancers didn't, it gave his team an advantage because he had a chance to see the Vikings play.
The loss drops Niles to 1-1 on the season. It also continued the Vikings' losing streak to the Lancers. Niles fell to Lakeshore three times last season, including in the first round of districts.
It was clear from the beginning that Niles struggled with Lakeshore's defense. The Vikings were able to get the ball inside on the Lancers, which was a strong-point Tuesday.
Niles' forward Nick Etzcorn had a career-high with 25 points against Washington. Friday, however, he was limited to eight points on just eight shots and very few touches.
Instead, the Vikings were forced to keep the ball on the perimeter and rely on the 3-point shot, which wasn't falling early. Niles hit 5-of-24 from behind the arc in the game.
Despite a woeful offense, the Vikings did have two spurts that resulted in solid runs at the Lancers' lead. The first came in the second quarter when the Vikings narrowed the lead to four points at 19-15.
Lakeshore responded with an 11-0 run to close the half and essentially sink Niles for good and take a 30-15 lead into halftime.
After trailing by as many as 23 in the third quarter, Niles chopped the lead to 58-48 with two minutes remaining behind the shooting of Lavette' Walker.
Lakeshore again responded by forcing a few key turnovers. Niles was forced to foul, and the Lancers sealed the victory by hitting 13 fourth quarter free throws.
Walker scored 17 points to lead the Vikings. Of that total, 11 came in the fourth period.
The Vikings' next game is Tuesday when they travel to South Bend Trinity.