With the season down to its final few games, Valley City State University mens basketball coach Jeff Kaminsky knows his team is hungry to achieve its ultimate goal — a berth in the NAIA Division II national tournament.
So at halftime of Saturday’s 73-48 win over Dakota Athletic Conference opponent Mayville State University at W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse, he had no problem reminding the Vikings just what they were playing for.
“During halftime, coach told us that we’ve got to control our destiny,” said Valley City guard Sekani Milligen. “The DAC is coming to an end, and if we wanted it — if we wanted to put ourselves in the position where no one can stop us from getting there, we had to go out in the second half and control the game.”
As far as Milligen was concerned, the Vikings did just that on both sides of the court and eventually outscored the Comets 46-31 in the second half, racking up a 64 percent shooting percentage, 71.4 percent from 3-point territory, in the process.
“This is a tough team to play against. They’ve played so competitive the last month of the season,” Kaminsky said. “To be able to separate was something I felt pretty good about. It really comes down, to me, to getting stops, taking care of the ball and getting good shots on the offensive end.”
It was a strategy that paid off. Even though each team put up 28 shots, VCSU connected on 11 more and limited the Comets to 25 percent from the floor in the second half, 27 percent on the game.
It was an effort that started from the inside out.
Forward Sylvester Walker started the half with a layup and within two and a half minutes, Aaron Duske added two more to go up 33-19.
Shortly after, with the Comets finding a rhythm to narrow the lead to 10, Milligen got in his groove and hit a midrange shot, followed by a 3-pointer, then repeated the sequence to move the lead to 43-29 with 12:51 left.
Though the Comets got in one more run to push it back to 44-36 with ten minutes left, that was it.
John Raquel, who provided a hot hand early in the first half, hit two free-throws, then was followed 40 seconds later by a layup from Jason Perkins. Another 30 seconds, and the Vikings went up 51-36 on a 3-pointer by Joe Bateman.
The closest the the Comets got from there was 14 points, and the Vikings didn’t allow Mayville to score in the final four minutes of the game.
Milligen led Valley City with 22 points, Raquel had 11 and Walker and Perkins each had 10.
VCSU women lose 83-69 to Mayville
Normally when a basketball team puts up 69 points and shoots 46 percent from the field, it ends up being a good day.
But Saturday, those numbers fell just short for the Valley City State women in an 83-69 shootout with DAC opponent Mayville State at home.
“It was sort of like they made everything,” said Valley City coach Jill DeVries. “They made it when they had our hand in their face, they made it when they were wide open. They made layups, they got fouled. They made plays.”
Many of those plays were from long range, no less, as the comets sent 11 3-pointers into the basket, including six straight in the first half to open the game up.
The Comets also finished 57 percent shooting in the game, including 63 percent in the second half.
The Vikings were led in scoring by Alyssa Hummel with 20 and Courtney Titus had 12 to lead five players in double digits.