Vikings falter in 2nd half

Special to the Tribune | Dianna Oatridge LaBrae's Connor Meyer (1) shoots against Edgewood defender Aaron Anderson (13) during the Vikings' 54-39 Division III District Final loss at Warren G. Harding High School on Friday night.

WARREN — All seasons must end eventually, and Friday night marked the end for the LaBrae Vikings. LaBrae was outscored 41-21 in the second half, falling 54-39 to Ashtabula Edgewood in the Division III Warren District title game.

The Vikings had a rough time on offense, producing their lowest output of the season.

“We didn’t have a great night offensively the whole time and a lot of that is credit to their defense,” Vikings coach Chad Kiser said. “They really are in lanes, off to the ball, they come down and double really well.

“We got caught standing offensively. We missed some shots, we had a chance to open it up in the first half. We didn’t shoot the ball well all night.”

The Vikings held Edgewood scoreless for the first 5 minutes of the game and had a lead for the entire first half. The LaBrae defense kept the pressure up and forced the Warriors into bad shots.

Special to the Tribune | Dianna Oatridge LaBrae's Walt Allie (40) drives to the hoop in front of Edgewood's Evan Andre Repose (15) during the Vikings' 54-39 Division III District Final loss at Warren G. Harding High School on Friday night.

“I thought we were locked in defensively in our rotations,” Kiser said. “We really pressured the ball well. We changed up some of our matchups. I thought Walt (Allie) did a great job on the point guard.”

Allie led the Vikings with 12 points. He drove the net and capitalized on plenty of second chances.

“I knew it may be my last game, so I had to give it my all,” Allie said. “These last few games I worked my butt off because I wanted to take my team all the way, it didn’t work out, but it’s all good. We did the best we could.”

Tyler Stephens was second on the team with eight points. Stephens is moving on to the University of Buffalo to continue his football career but will still cherish his memories on the hardwood.

“It was a great ride,” Stephens said. “I just love this team and the coaches. I couldn’t ask for anything better. We came up short, but it’s been fun. One of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced.”

Special to the Tribune | Dianna Oatridge LaBrae's Tyler Stephens (21) drives around Edgewood's Sam Jerman (11) during the Vikings' 54-39 Division III District Final loss at Warren G. Harding High School on Friday night.

The Warriors had three players reach double figures. Jacob Zappitelli led the team with 15 points. Hayden Kanicki had 13 points and Sam Jerman added 11.

The win gives Edgewood their first district title since 1991. They move on to face Mogadore in the Canton Regional.

Despite the loss of a strong senior class, Kiser has optimism about the future of the LaBrae program. Kiser mentions the perception around the team after losing an elite level player five years ago while his seniors were still in middle school and how they maintained success after the fact.

“The last three years, this senior class had 68 wins and they were a key part all three years,” Kiser said. “They’ve been a great group since junior high and we knew we had a special group out of them when they were in seventh grade. They’ve come a long way.

“A lot of people thought when Peyton (Aldridge) graduated that we would slow down. These guys were in junior high when we made it to state and they’ve seen that, and they wanted to carry on the tradition. We don’t just have a team, I think we’ve got an established program and these seniors helped maintain that.”

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