The Williams High School Vikings boys basketball team went 3-1 in the annual Route 66 Holiday Basketball Classic Dec. 5-7 in Williams, missing out on a championship win with a loss to Seligman.
Head coach Rico Dunn said the Vikings dominated Bagdad in their first game of the tournament. While it was a close game until halftime, the Vikings pulled away and ending up beating Bagdad 66-38.
"We had a really strong showing early from Colton Grantham, Christian Plascencia, Leo Lopez and Austin Kennelly," Dunn said. "We handed over [the game] to our young guys pretty much for the entire fourth quarter."
The Vikings' second game in the tourney against Mayer was close until late in the game. Dunn said the Vikes had problems playing without Plascencia making the game more difficult.
"Leo and Colton really stepped up and helped us pull away with that one. Austin played his role as well," Dunn said. "The pressure turned out to be too much for them in the long run."
The Vikings ended up winning against Mayer 60-43.
The Vikes edged out a win against Needles in their third game of the tournament, waiting until the final moments to pull away and win 51-45.
"It was an exciting game all the way down to the wire," Dunn said. "It was really close until the last little bit."
Needles turned the ball over with about 19 seconds left. The Vikings turned the ball back over to Needles with four seconds left, which was not enough time for Needles to score. The Vikes fouled very quickly putting a Needles player at the foul line for two in the double bonus. He ended up making one shot and missing the other. The Vikings rebounded the ball and held it for the last few seconds to win the game.
The Vikings got off to a great start against Seligman in the championship game. At one point, they led 20-6. But once again, playing without Plascencia took its toll.
"Seligman is a big team and while players Aidan Grantham and Lopez really stepped up and guarded the big guys for the Vikes, it just got to be too much once our guys got into foul trouble," Dunn said.
He also said the Vikes' shooters were not hitting the basket and without some of their key scorers, like Lopez, on the court, they could not capitalize on anything. And once Seligman switched one of their big, fast players onto Grantham, the Vikings were shut down.
"We didn't really have an answer that night," Dunn said. "I liked the way that we battled even though Austin wasn't hitting and Leo was in foul trouble. Colton was dead on on Saturday night, but without another scorer like Plascencia, when things aren't hitting for us, we can run into some problems."
Dunn said he does feel that the Vikings will do better when they face Seligman again in February because he knows by then the team will be full strength with all of their guys.
"We'll be able to attack what they do best a lot better and I think we'll be able to dominate them then," Dunn said.
Grantham and Lopez earned all-tournament recognition, which honors the players who did particularly well during the weekend. Lopez and Grantham averaged 20 points per game.
"The Needles coach told me that if Colton's on, he doesn't think there is anyone in the tournament who could touch us," Dunn said. "I think he was right. I think Seligman did a good job putting someone on him that Colton couldn't beat, just because of the lack of size."
The Vikings will play Ash Fork, Rancho Solano and Sedona this week.