The VASJ Vikings continue to prove to be a team with a tremendous knack for dramatics.
And for winning.
For the fourth straight game, VASJ came out on top in a game that went down to the wire, this time, a 69-67 victory over Bentonville West at the NEOSHO Holiday Classic in Missouri on Dec. 27.
The Vikings advance to play West Memphis HS on Dec. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
After a season-opening loss in Columbus to Pickerington North, the Vikings (4-1) have defeated Cleveland Heights, Archbishop Hoban, Cleveland Central Catholic and Bentonville West by a total of 9 points – including a pair of wins in overtime.
Sophomore guard Jaden Hameed scored 27 points – including the late go-ahead basket – to lead three VASJ players in double figures. Graham Koppelman hit four 3s and scored 16 points for the Vikings. Khalil Mitcham added 10 points, three rebounds and two blocks for the Vikings.
VASJ jumped out to an 18-7 lead at the end of one quarter and a 35-22 advantage at half.
Bentonville West cut into the deficit by outscoring the Vikings, 25-15, in the third quarter, but VASJ went on to another close win.
“It was another barn burner and I told our kids that the squad would be as well coached as any team we would play all year, and they were,” VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak said. “Coach Greg White is as good a coach as there is at any level. Those kids at Bentonville are lucky to have him.
“In the end, we had more talent and Jaden’s ability to get to the line was the difference.”
Hameed hit 10 of 11 free throws in the win.
“We play an absolutely loaded West Memphis team – it should be a great test in a great environment,” Kwasniak said.