Photo by Wendy Howell.
WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Three tough fought wins secured the Williams Vikings as the 1A Central Region Tournament champions Feb. 11.
The Vikings first faced the Ash Fork Spartans in the tournament Feb. 7 in a game that went into overtime with the Vikings pulling down the win 45-42.
The next game saw the Vikings take on the Cibecue Wildcats in another closely fought game, which included a half-court buzzer beater 3-point shot by Payce Mortensen that rallied the Vikings, who eventually ended on top in a 52-40 win.
1a Central Region Tourney
Two hours after the game with Cibecue, the Vikings faced number one ranked Joseph City in the tournament championship game.
Despite the short turn-around, the Vikings came out fighting with scoring by Mortensen (11), Stephen Gary (4) and Zack Perkins (2) and left the first half tied 17-17.
The teams went head-to-head in the third quarter with Joseph City outscoring the Vikings 16-12 as they cruised into the final quarter leading 33-29.
The Vikings brought in their reserves, however, in the fourth quarter as Mortensen put up two field goals and went 9 for 11 at the free-throw line, the Vikings outscored Joseph City 21-9 to take the win with a final score of 50-42.
Despite outstanding offensive scoring by Mortensen, who scored 22, 17 and 24 points respectively in the three games, coach Troy Mortensen attributed the wins to dynamic team play by the Vikings.
“The last three games have shown that they can play together and when they do, they’re successful,” he said.
Mortensen said the Vikings played exceptional basketball starting with the Ash Fork game.
“All the games were a lot of back and forth play,” he said. “We’d go down and then we’d get back up. Those games they had to decide if they really wanted to win it.”
Mortensen said he felt it was the first time the team executed their offense well.
“It was good to see them control things a bit more, instead of doing what the other teams wants them to do.”
Mortensen said the tournament was a good chance to improve the Vikings’ game before they head to the state tournament.
“There were plenty of chances to lay down and give up but they continued to battle and that’s a good sign,” he said.
With or without the win, the Vikings were headed to the state tournament that begins this weekend. The Vikings will face Baboquivari Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. at Prescott High School.
“It isn’t going to be easy,” Mortensen said about the state tournament. “Baboquivari is a big physical team and we’re going to have to be ready for them.”
The Lady Vikings ended their season with a tough 45-34 to Grand Canyon Feb. 9 in the girls regional tournament. The Lady Vikes young team ended the season 3-12.
Mortensen said he was pleased with the fan turnout for the regional tournament and hopes the fans will follow the team to Prescott Friday.
“We’d love to have as many people out as we can,” he said. The atmosphere during the Ash fork, Cibecue and Joe City games was incredible. It’s great to see people out there and excited about Williams varsity basketball.”