DAVID CITY — Lakeview head boys basketball coach Bryce Roth is starting to feel a lot like Bill Murray’s character from “Groundhog Day.”
The Vikings keep proving they can play with good teams for four quarters. They just can’t quite beat one.
Their latest close call came Saturday against Class C-1 ratings contender David City Aquinas.
Lakeview hung around all game, but it was Telegram Super Senior Tyler Vavrina and the Monarchs who did what it took to get the 54-50 home win.
“When it came down to winning and crunch time, they made a couple plays that really made the difference,” Roth said.
Many of those plays came from Vavrina, who knocked down three of his team’s eight 3-pointers and scored a game-high 18 points.
Roth called the 6-foot-2 guard the X-factor.
“He’s just a tremendous player. He’s a gamer,” the Lakeview coach said. “We couldn’t quite slow him down.”
Every 3-pointer Vavrina hit gave Aquinas its biggest lead of that quarter, including one that followed a Kyle Ruth block on the defensive end and put the Monarchs in front 51-42 with under three minutes left in the game.
Lakeview was able to cut the deficit to 52-48 on a Cameron Drozd layup with 23.7 seconds remaining, but the Monarchs hit enough free throws late to hold off the Vikings.
“We stayed with it, stayed scrappy,” Aquinas head coach Kyle Eller said. “We were able to continue to hang onto the lead and make shots when we had to.”
The Monarchs trailed 13-12 after Lakeview’s Landon Vogt hit a jumper to close the first quarter then opened the second period on an 11-2 run capped by Vavrina’s first trey.
The Vikings responded with a 9-0 run over the next three minutes that included a three-point play from Sean Donnelly and two free throws each from Vogt and Maverick Pilakowski to retake the lead at 24-23.
A steal by Vavrina that set up a 3-pointer from Braden Smith ended the spurt and Aquinas took a 29-26 advantage into the locker room. Smith hit two 3-pointers in the game and finished with 11 points.
Aquinas was up by as many as seven in the third quarter following Vavrina’s second triple before Lakeview closed to within 42-38 entering the final period.
“I thought our guys were a little bit rattled there in the second and third quarters,” Eller said. “I thought the fourth quarter they showed a little bit better composure, just kind of finishing it out like they needed to.”
Drozd, who scored 10 points for Lakeview, hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter and Cody Schaad added another.
Donnelly, a 6-foot-4 senior, led the Vikings with 11 points as Lakeview exploited a height advantage down low. Luke Rollman, a 6-foot-8 senior, added seven points and Vogt had eight, all in the first half.
Roth liked his team’s balance on offense, but wasn’t thrilled about the 14 turnovers Aquinas’ press defense forced.
“On the road, you have to have 10 or less,” he said of the giveaways. “We want to make sure we take better care of the ball.”
Aquinas, which also got five points each from Daniel Stara and Matt Nadrchal, has won eight of its last nine games, with the only loss coming Friday at Class C-1, No. 4 Grand Island Central Catholic.
The Monarchs (11-3) get a break in their schedule after playing three games in the past week. They return to the court Friday at Class C-2, No. 2 Hastings St. Cecilia, and Eller has a few things in mind to work on between now and then.
“More than anything else we need a week of practice,” he said.
Lakeview (2-11), which also had three games this week, has lost six straight entering Tuesday’s contest at Milford, a solid C-1 team.
Roth knows his team can compete against that caliber of opponent. He’s seen it over and over.
“We’ll play anybody and we’ll bring it, and we’re going to be in it and we’re going to have a chance,” he said.
UTICA — Jackson Hirschfeld and Cooper Gierhan combined for 42 points Friday night as Class C-2, No. 9 Centennial beat Lakeview 51-41 in Utica.
Hirschfeld poured in a game-high 22 points, Gierhan added 20 and only two other Broncos scored in the home win.
"We knew going in that Hirschfeld and Gierhan were really tough," Lakeview head coach Bryce Roth said. "We made some defensive adjustments that really slowed them down in the second half."
The duo combined for 23 points in the first half, including 16 from Gierhan, who buried his fourth 3-pointer as time expired to put Centennial on top 30-22 at the break.
Outside of Gierhan's shooting display, Roth thought his team played well on the defensive end in the second quarter, allowing just 11 points in the period, and he gave his offense credit for keeping pace with the Broncos.
Cadge Janssen knocked down two of his three 3-pointers in the second quarter on his way to 11 points and Maverick Pilakowski scored six of his 10 points in the opening period.
"Every time they went on a run, I felt like we slowly settled in and battled back to close the gap," Roth said.
Lakeview (2-10) cut the deficit to 37-32 after holding Centennial (11-2) to just seven points in the third quarter.
The Vikings were still down five with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter before they were forced to start fouling. Centennial hit 8 of 9 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter to hold its lead.
"We needed one or two more stops on the defensive end," Roth said. "On the road against a really solid team, the margin for error is just so thin. Our team is showing massive improvements and we have been toe-to-toe with some really good teams, we just need to take control and seize the opportunity in these late-game situations."
Hirschfeld scored 15 points in the second half for the Broncos, with eight points coming at the free-throw line.
It's the second game in a row Lakeview has been outscored by a pair of opposing players after Pierce's Braydan Waldner and Taylor Oestreich combined for 40 in Tuesday's 43-35 loss for the Vikings.
Sean Donnelly finished with 11 points for Lakeview, including six in the second half.