LEAVITTSBURG - The message here Friday night was to be very careful when playing the LaBrae Vikings three days after a loss.
The Girard Indians had the misfortune of running into the Vikings following their defeat last Tuesday to the Brookfield Warriors. After a couple of intense practices, LaBrae was determined to put on a better show than it did in Brookfield.
It played out exactly as planned as the Vikings staged an offensive explosion in a 92-64 win in an All-American Conference, National Division game. The star of the show was 6-foot-7 junior Peyton Aldridge, who had three alley-oop dunks in scoring 24 points.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
LaBrae’s Peyton Aldridge (10) makes a statement with a slam dunk over Girard’s Jake Ryser during third-quarter action on Friday night.
The Vikings (9-2, 6-0) were at their best in the third quarter. Not comfortable with a 45-38 halftime lead, LaBrae turned up its defensive intensity, which transferred into a 26-point period. Aldridge scored 13 points in the quarter, including 11 straight.
The Vikings had a 71-49 lead at the end of the quarter to put to rest any thoughts of another loss.
"They shot the lights out," Indians coach Craig Hannon said of the Vikings. "I don't think they've shot like that all year, and I'm sure coach (Chad) Kiser would agree. We hung around with them, but they just kept making shot after shot."
Hannon had to know he was in trouble when the Vikings received big-time help from their bench players. Kenny Hall made five of LaBrae's 10 3-point shots in scoring 17 points.
"Our main problem was our lack of intensity," Kiser said of recent losses to Poland and Brookfield. "We've won a lot of games in the last few years, and sometimes when you do that you get used to winning. You forget how hard you have to work in order to be a good team.
"We weren't playing as well as we're capable. We had yet to play four quarters of basketball. Tonight we played well in every quarter. We were mentally focused and we had our mental intensity for four quarters."
Aldridge showed more intensity than in previous games. He was anxious to put the recent defeats behind him and get on another roll.
"We knew this was a bounce-back game and we had to come out and play hard," Aldridge said. "We've been working hard in practice to get better. We knew that Girard had won six straight before this. We knew we had to come out or it could be like another Poland or Brookfield game. We knew we had to come out with intensity."
The Indians (8-4 and 3-2 in the AAC) went toe-to-toe with the Vikings in the first half on the scoring strength of talented sophomore Craig Randall, who scored 30 points. Randall showed several quick penetrating moves and a smooth outside shot. He made four 3-point shots (all in the first half) in scoring 18 points
"I forget how young we are as a team," Hannon said. "They (the Vikings) play in all kinds of big games. We have to play in these games to get used to this kind of game in this kind of atmosphere. Games like this really help us get better."
Kiser made some changes in his zone defense to neutralize the scoring of Randall in the second half. Randall still scored 12 points in the final 16 minutes, including eight at the foul line.
"We didn't stop him," Kiser said. "He finally got a little bit tired. He made some tough shots. I told my guys, 'I'm not going to yell at you because he's not getting open shots.' There's no doubt about it; he can play."
Jim Standohar scored 12 points, and Korri Maynard had 11 for the Indians.
LaBrae plays West Middlesex (Pa.) Sunday at the Covelli Centre at 8:30 p.m. Girard hosts Mineral Ridge Tuesday.