Monday, April 15, 2024

Vikings capture third seed for divisional tourney

For the Eagle | February 15, 2024 10:55 AM

In need of two wins to keep their hopes of avoiding the divisional play-in alive, the Vikings got just that last week as they survived tough tests against Ronan and Whitefish.

Up by two with 25 seconds to play in Ronan Thursday, the Vikings got a big three from Asher Knopik as they got past the Chiefs, 43-36.

The Vikes used strong defense to hold Ronan to just one point in the first quarter, opening up an 8-1 lead after eight minutes of play, but the Chiefs stormed back to cut the Bigfork lead to 21-19 at the half.

Bigfork won another defensive battle in the third quarter, 4-2, to set up Knopik’s late-game heroics.

Knopik finished with 17 points and six rebounds to lead the Vikings in the win while Jack Jensen was the next leading scorer with seven.

Cole Knopik added five points and four rebounds, Austin Savik had five points and five boards, Colin Wade scored four, Wyatt Johnson had three points and six rebounds and Jack Lucke added two points.

Trailing by one with under six minutes to play Saturday, the Vikings closed out the game with an 8-3 run to take down Whitefish, 51-46.

Bigfork led 14-7 after one quarter of action, but the Bulldogs rallied to take their first lead at 20-19 midway through the second frame.

The Viking answered with an 8-0 run to take a 27-20 advantage into the break.

Whitefish rallied again in the third, grabbing a 40-39 advantage late in the frame before a buzzer-beating three by Jensen put Bigfork up 42-40 heading into the fourth quarter.

Up by one midway through the fourth, Asher Knopik once again knocked down a big three for the Vikes before scoring on a nifty pass from Jensen to put Bigfork up 49-43 with 2:25 to play.

A Whitefish three cut the lead to 49-46 with 1:08 to play and the Bulldogs had a chance to cut the lead to one, but Wade was able to draw an offensive foul before Asher Knopik sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 16.8 seconds to play.

Savik led the Vikings with 18 points and five rebounds in the victory while Asher Knopik finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Cole Knopik chipped in with nine points, Johnson scored six and Jensen and Wade each scored four points.

With the win, the Vikings finish the regular season 9-9 overall and 7-5 in Northwest A action and will enter next weekend’s Western A Divisional tournament in Butte as a three seed by virtue of having outscored Ronan (also 7-5) by two points in their two meetings this season.