By Aaron Poling
MONTAGUE–The Whitehall Vikings were undefeated in conference play coming into their Thursday match-up with cross-town rival Montague, a team that;s also been playing well and hoped to give the Vikings a run for their money.
But the Vikings are still undefeated and on top of the West Michigan Conference standings after an emphatic defeat of the Wildcats.
Whitehall used two big scoring runs, including a 19-0 explosion in the third quarter, to coast to a 63-44 victory at Montague High School .
With the win the Vikings improved to 8-2 overall and 7-0 in the league. The Wildcats fell to 7-2 overall and in conference play.
The victory completed a two-game regular season sweep of Montague.
After Whitehall’s Lance Grattafiori opened the scoring 1:15 into the game, the Vikings went on a 13-0 run to take a 13-3 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter. During the run, every Vikings starter recorded a field goal. After Montague made a buzzer-beating three-pointer, the Vikings led 19-8 after the first quarter.
“We have five good players,” Whitehall Head Coach Nate Aardema said about his starters. “They are willing to share the ball. With the way teams try to defend us, it’s a luxury to have players step up and make play after play.”
Both teams scored nine points in the second quarter, making the halftime score 28-17 Vikings.
With 3:30 left in the third quarter, Whitehall senior Dayton Cole scored a driving floater. Those were the first two points of the Vikings’ 19-0 run, which lasted just over three minutes, and through two Montague time outs.
Whitehall senior Casey Lownds went on a personal 9-0 run, scoring three straight three-pointers for the Vikings. Evan Mikkelson recorded a field goal before Caleb Koch scored three straight layups.
That was a the knockout punch for the Vikings, who led 54-28 at the end of the third.
“I thought Casey (Lownds) sparked us,” Coach Aardema said.
“Any time a team goes on a run, you try to find some things to slow them down,” said Montague Coach Dave Osborne. “I called two timeouts in the quarter, but they had it going.”
The Vikings spread the ball around on offense with seven players scoring at least six points. Cole paced the balanced Viking attack with 14 points. Mikkelson and Lownds each scored nine points, while Addison Bluhm finished with seven. Koch, Red Watson and Andrew Durbin each recorded six points.
“We’re just sharing the ball,” Cole said. “We want everyone to score, that is one of our goals going into games.”
Drew Collins led the Wildcats with 13 points while Hayden McDonald chipped in with seven.