Vikings withstand Panther rally for 8-0 start

After Lo-Ma erases 17-point AHSTW lead, Mantell hits winning free throws with :01.3 to go

 LOGAN (Dec. 19) -- It wasn’t easy, but then again it rarely is when AHSTW plays a boys basketball game at Logan-Magnolia.
 Leading by 17 points late in the third quarter, the 6th-ranked (1A) Vikings needed two free throws from senior big man Michael Mantell with :01.3 left to outlast the Panthers 60-58 last Thursday and reach the holiday break unbeaten.
 AHSTW (8-0 overall, 6-0 Western Iowa Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak on Lo-Ma’s home floor, which includes a two-point defeat three years ago when the Vikings went 21-3 and reached the 2A substate finals.
 “It’s a tough place to play,” acknowledged AHSTW head coach G.G. Harris. “To come in here and find a way to win and move forward, that’s all that matters.”
 Raydden Grobe’s 17 first-quarter points helped put AHSTW up 21-13 early, but he would score just four more points the rest of the way. The Vikings led 32-26 at the half and played some of their best basketball in the third quarter to take a seemingly comfortable 53-36 advantage on a tip-in by Brayden Lund.
 The Panthers wouldn’t quit, however, and slowly snuck back into contention behind the scoring of Dylan Cunard, Tre Melby and others. Cunard, who made 14-of-16 free throws, scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, including Lo-Ma’s last eight. He scored off a back door cut with 1:27 left to pull the Panther within two, then hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with :17.4 remaining to tie the score at 58.
 With time winding down, the Vikings got the ball inside to Mantell, who spun to his left. Mantell briefly lost control near the basket when the baseline official called a reaching foul with just :01.3 on the clock. The Viking senior calmly swished both free throws and shushed the Panther student section for good measure.
 The ensuing inbounds pass was stolen by Sam Porter to end the game.
 “We had some seniors really step up and take control,” Coach Harris stated.
 Grobe led the Vikings with 21 points and Lund scored 10 of his 11 in the third quarter. Mantell and Clayton Akers added eight points each and Kyle Sternberg hit a pair of treys for six.

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