Looking for consistency

LaBrae wins, but Vikings seek more

Tribune Chronicle / Brian Yauger Tyler Stephens goes up for a dunk in the third quarter of LaBrae’s 74-39 victory Friday over Brookfield.

BROOKFIELD — LaBrae has struggled with consistency all season according to coach Chad Kiser. They may not have found it in Brookfield Friday night, but they did find a win as they defeated the Warriors, 74-39, for their 12th win in 13 games.

“We get real complacent and that’s dangerous,” Kiser said. “Especially at this time of year, as you’re getting ready for tournaments. You have to have focus no matter who you’re playing. No matter what quarter it is, no matter what the score is. Right now a big concern is that complacency and consistency.”

The Vikings (15-3, 9-2 All-American Conference, Blue Tier), despite finishing the game with a huge win, trailed early and throughout the first quarter struggled to put points on the board. That came from weak shot selection and overall coming out flat, according to Kiser.

“I thought we were sluggish in the first half,” he said. “We came out a little flat, just tried to shoot 3s against the zone instead of moving the ball. I think our first five or six shots were all 3s before we started to go inside-out.

“I thought in the second half we played pretty well. We mixed up the defenses a little bit, ran some different stuff. Defense leading to offense, and I thought we shot the ball better. Overall, not bad but wasn’t a great effort for four quarters like we’re looking for.”

Tribune Chronicle / Brian Yauger Gage Emery (left) of Brookfield looks for a pass while Justin Rutherford of LaBrae defends in the Vikings’ victory Friday night.

Brookfield played much closer than the quarter-by-quarter score shows. Gage Emery led the Warriors (8-10, 4-7), scoring 13 points, and Jake Shingledecker scored all six of his points in the first half to keep Brookfield close. Brookfield’s 12-point first quarter was their highest scoring quarter of the game. They reached that mark once again in the fourth, but it was too late at that point.

“We were hanging in there,” Brookfield coach Shawn Hammond said. “It felt like the game was getting away and I looked up and we were only down 11 points. We cut it in there to four at one point. They hit a three before the half and they jumped up 11 or 12.

“First half wasn’t bad. They’re athletic and they run a lot of bodies at us so over time it just wore us out a little bit.”

LaBrae was up by 11 at the half, but stormed out of the gates in the second half, scoring 18 and 25 points, respectively. The floodgates opened once again, but that’s not something Kiser wants them to rely on.

“That (opening the floodgates) is the dangerous part for us,” Kiser said. “They think they can just flip the switch and not play all four quarters, that’s the killer. When we can play defense and make some baskets and be able to pressure and focus on the defensive end, it leads to a lot of offense for us, but it wasn’t there. It has to be there in the first half. I’m disappointed about that for sure.”

Tribune Chronicle / Brian Yauger Connor Meyer (right) of LaBrae defends Jake Shingledecker of Brookfield in Friday night’s victory over the Warriors.

The Vikings look to be locked into second place in the All-American Conference Blue Tier, trailing the undefeated Edgewood Warriors by two games. Up next for LaBrae is a game against Liberty where they look to find the consistency Kiser has been searching for all season.