By Brennan Waldorf
The Broadwater Vikings took the court Jan. 14 against Stone Bridge in Exmore for the first time with returning center Clay Wardius. His absence left a big hole in the Vikings’ defense and offense as the 6’7” center is the focal point in their attack.
Broadwater won the tipoff and was first to score when Wardius was fouled under the basket during a shot. He made his first free throw and the Vikings had their first lead of the game. Stone Bridge’s offense played the ball slowly all night, often passing several times beyond the arc and burning as much clock as possible.
The inside presence of Wardius kept the Cavaliers out of the paint and forced them to find open shooters. On defense, they double-teamed the Vikings’ big man and closed off passing lanes inside.
Their attraction to Wardius allowed the Vikings shooters to get open, and on the next possession, Wardius dished the ball to Travis Northam in the corner for a 3.
Marvin Johnson played hard on defense, often picking the Cavaliers’ pockets and causing havoc. He got a steal at half court and quickly took off, getting fouled on a tough transition bucket. He converted the play and put the Vikings up 7-6. The first quarter ended 12-9 with the Cavaliers ahead.
The second half closed with the two teams tied 23-23 with Broadwater having a chance to take the lead within the final seconds. A late foul call on Stone Bridge was called when James Gilbert was hit hard on a put-back attempt. Gilbert was unable to convert, missing both free throws and keeping the score locked at 23.
The second half was similar to the first in which Stone Bridge ran its clock, burning offense, and the presence of Wardius kept the Cavaliers outside, forcing jump shots. Marvin Johnson opened scoring with a step hop to the basket on a fast break taking the lead 25-23. Scoring in the third quarter was low and ended 30-28 with Broadwater behind.
The last quarter was tight, and the close score kept players on edge. Stone Bridge’s Anthony Simpson was clutch with two jump shots that put his team up 34-28. The Vikings didn’t back down and rose to the occasion, as Caleb Floyd made a spectacular shot while falling to the floor closing the gap. The Vikings got another stop on defense and then found Johnson in the corner for a 3, putting the score at 34-33. With 3:18 remaining, the Vikings had a several good looks on the basket but couldn’t get anything to fall. Their offensive rebounding kept them in the game along with fouls on Wardius. Fouls were converted to points by the center and the Vikings took the lead 36-34.
Stone Bridge’s Anthony Simpson was the difference-maker as he sunk two clutch jump shots that put his team ahead 38-36. With 7:9 left, the Vikings had one more chance at winning after a bad inbound pass by the Cavaliers. Wardius was double-teamed and Johnson drove but his shot was hard and rimmed out ultimately ending the game 38-36.
The Vikings will be back on the court tonight, Jan. 17, in Exmore, for a 7 p.m. tipoff against Atlantic Shores.