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Vikings win first region contest in two years as team comes together for run

Sports editor

The tough loss to a highly regarded West Desert team last Tuesday must have done something to the psyche of East Carbon's boys basketball team. For the first time all season, traditional star of the Vikings team scored only in single figures, but did just about everything else he could do in a win last Wednesday at the Viking gymnasium as East Carbon beat Wasatch Academy 61-58.

"From the scoring it looks like Tony didn't have much of a game," said head coach Steve Gutierrez. "But he did it all in that game. Along with his four points he had 15 assists, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. It was just a great win as a bunch of kids stepped up."

But that plus also had a minus side reserved for Friday night. That evening McFarland, point guard DJ Huitt and Kevin Cline were missing from the lineup when the team faced Tintic at home. The resulting score was an 84-47 loss to the Miners.

"We really missed those guys, although we still played well considering," said Gutierrez. "I hate to complain about officiating, but Tintic shot 32 foul shots. There were just a lot of calls that were questionable."

The three missing players had gone to Cedar City to participate in the 1A state wrestling championships. That's one of the problems with being a small school like East Carbon; kids not only often have to participate in many sports, sometimes they have compete in different sports on the same day. Choices have to be made and that is tough.

In the win against Wasatch Academy, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead of 19-11 at the end of the first quarter, but after that the Vikes stopped that trend.

The second quarter knotted at 12-12 and by the third period the East Carbon kids took over handing the Tigers back the scoring totals they had administered to the Vikes in the first period, 19-11. With the game all tied up, some felt it was time for the Vikings to finally pull one out; and they did.

In the fourth quarter Austin Preston scoring and McFarlands rebounds and defense were key.

They scrambled all over the court and kept the Tigers down as they shot down the Wasatch Academy offense and took the game away.

Preston was the leading scorer in the game with 16 points, while Pat Hansen had 13 and DJ Huitt had 11. Hansen also got five blocked shots in the game.

On Friday night Tintic moved out to a lead fast and never let go of it. At the end of the first period they had a 19-11 head start.

In the second period the Vikings even got into a deeper hole as the Miners piled it on 28-11 in the quarter making the halftime score 46-25.

"Part of the problem was that if the kids started to foul, I couldn't put anyone in for them because we were so short on players," said Gutierrez. "They called a technical on Pat (Hansen) and that just made things worse."

In the second half it didn't get any better either as a single digit third quarter for the Vikes led to only a 22 point half while Tintic put in 38 more points. But the team isn't deterred by the situation.

"Having our first win last week was a big deal," stated Gutierrez. "I think we can come back in these last two weeks of the season and win a couple. If so, we will get into a crossover game."

As for the kids who went wrestling it paid off for them. McFarland took third in the state in the 275 lb. division while Huitt took third in the 119 lb. class. A good showing for a small team.

The Vikes next game will be on Feb. 20 at home against Dugway, a team that must suffer a five hour ride to East Carbon.

That might work to the Vikes advantage.

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