WAVERLY – The Waverly boys basketball team improved to 9-7 on the year after finishing a recent stretch with a record of 2-2.
The Vikings defeated Plattsmouth 53-31 in conference tournament play on Jan. 28 at Waverly High School.
Coming off a 10-day break, the Vikings were sharp especially on the defensive end of the floor.
They led 14-8 after one quarter and 22-11 at the half.
The Devils scored the first five points of the game, but the Vikings held the visitors without a point over a 10-minute stretch of the first half.
“I thought we played with a chip on our shoulder and were flying around to the ball. I loved how we attacked the rim offensively and got their two bigs into some foul trouble,” said Waverly Coach Ryan Reeder.
The Vikings controlled the pace throughout the second half while outscoring their opponent 31-20.
“I thought we took a step forward in the right direction tonight,” added Reeder.
Senior Noah Stoddard filled up the stat sheet with 16 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Junior Andrew Heffelfinger added 14 points and three rebounds.
The win put Waverly into the conference tournament semifinals where they squared off with rival Norris at Elkhorn High School on Jan. 30.
The Vikings fell behind the Titans early and were eliminated from the tournament after suffering a 45-35 loss.
Back-to-back 3-pointers allowed the Titans to take a 17-9 lead after one quarter.
The Vikings responded defensively and limited Norris to just six points in the second quarter and went into halftime down just six points.
The Viking defense was strong throughout the second half and limited the Titans to just four made field goals.
However, the Titans converted at the free throw line late in the game and preserved the victory.
“I was very pleased with our shot chart and how we played defensively. That had a feeling of a district game, so those experiences in a late January game will only help us in the long run,” said Reeder.
Heffelfinger led the Vikes with 10 points. Stoddard added eight points, three rebounds and three assists.
Sophomore Hogan Wingrove chipped in eight points and five rebounds.
Waverly got back into the win column at home on Feb. 4 against the Ralston Rams.
The story of the game was the play of the Viking defense which limited the Rams to just 28 points in a 57-28 home rout.
“I thought our defense was on lockdown for the entire game. We were very energetic and were communicating very well. I thought we took a huge step forward by holding a team that averages in the mid 60’s to 28 total points,” added Reeder.
Stoddard and Heffelfinger provided the offense for the first team.
Stoddard scored 24 points and added four assists and four rebounds.
Heffelfinger scored 20 points and did not miss a shot all night. He finished 6-of-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line.
The Viking offense struggled on Feb. 7 when playing host to the Aurora Huskies.
Waverly was limited to just 37 points in the 43-37 setback.
The Vikings missed all nine of their 3-point attempts in the second half and finished 3-of-18 from behind the 3-point line for the game.
“I thought this was the first game all year where we beat ourselves with uncharacteristic mistakes, rather it be not keying on certain players or not matching their physical play. We had a couple instances where we lost track of their shooter and he made us pay, and when the game is in the 30s or 40s, every possession matters,” said Reeder.
Stoddard finished with 18 points and five rebounds.
Heffelfinger added points.