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Banged up Vikings take care of Dragons

LEAVITTSBURG — The injuries are mounting for the LaBrae Vikings boys basketball team.

LaBrae (7-3) was already without Caleb Simmons and Aidan Stephens. They lost Stephens in Friday night’s 73-35 victory over Campbell. Short-handed, the Vikings still had a relatively easy time with Niles on Saturday as LaBrae was victorious, 65-51, at home.

Unfortunately, the Vikings did not escape without another key injury as senior Connor Meyer turned his ankle late in the second half. Meyer’s ankle was heavily wrapped with ice when he walked off the floor at the end of the game.

“We’ve lost three of our top six players in the last three games,” LaBrae coach Chad Kiser said. “Simmons went down on Tuesday. Hopefully, we get a couple of them back next week. But, we’ll have to wait and see on that.”

Senior Landen Kiser stepped up his game and finished with a game-high 22 points, including shooting 9-of-11 at the free-throw line, to lead the way for the Vikings on Saturday.

“We had other people step up tonight,” Landen Kiser said. “We did a good job in the first half. We brought the pressure, we got the ball inside, we made free throws. We lost Stephens last game, then we lost Conner in the second half tonight. Next guy has to step up. I think we played well.”

LaBrae played well enough to build an 18-11 lead after one quarter. However, Niles battled in the second quarter and trailed 34-27 at halftime.

Doug Foster (team-high 20 points) nailed a pair from behind the arc for the Red Dragons. Matt Kozak was a force on defense with a block, a steal, and multiple rebounds, and Zack Leonard’s buzzer-beater cut the Vikings’ lead to seven as the teams headed to their locker rooms.

“The season itself has been kind of tough,” Niles (1-7) coach Doug Foster said. “You get ready. Then, they shut you down. You come back. They shut you down again. It’s been a rough road. We’re trying to get better.

“We had no answer for Landen Kiser. He played a good game inside. We cut it to five. Every time we made a run, they came back and hit a 3. That’s the way it’s been going for us. We’ll make a run, but we just can’t seem to get over that hump.”

Alleni Fryer opened the second half with a left-handed lay-up for Niles. Not much went right for the Red Dragons the rest of the third, as LaBrae outscored them 19-8 in the quarter. Meyer (14 points) tossed an alley-oop to Tre’Von Drake (14 points), who finished with a lay-in.

Meyer had another assist to Matt Biery, who buried a 3-pointer from the corner. Meyer made a nifty reverse lay-up off of an inbound. The Vikings had good ball movement. Stephen Hemberger had a nice assist. Devin Carter’s 3-pointer gave LaBrae a 53-35 advantage heading to the fourth.

Landen Kiser went to work down-low in the fourth. He refused to be denied when he powered the ball up and in as he was being fouled, and the Vikings walked away with another victory.

“We did a good job of getting the ball moving,” coach Kiser said. “We were able to get the ball inside and attack the basket. Our zone was really good tonight. We were active in it. Our bench guys stepped up tonight. Leon Miranda played really well. Aiden Kiser and Jay McGarry stepped in and ran the point once Connor went out.”

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