TRAVERSE CITY — For Cadillac, it was kind of an ugly win. For Central, kind of a beautiful setback.
The Vikings escaped the Trojans’ gym with a 51-42 overtime victory in a game in which Central led pretty much from the second quarter on until Jalen Brooks’ bank shot finished off an end-to-end drive with 3.9 ticks left to knot it up.
“They were in control and we had a hard time stopping their inside guys,” Cadillac coach Jeff McDonald said. “Their pressure hurt us. For us to hang in there, I’m proud of our kids. They hung in there and Jalen made the tough shot there at the end. We put it in his hands and he made a big play in a game where he struggled some.”
The Vikings (6-2, 5-1 BNC) scored the first nine points of overtime to control the extra session, despite missing seven of 12 from the free-throw line.
“Usually, when you miss free throws and lay-ups, you lose games,” McDonald said. “We missed a number of lay-ups we should have made and had very few guys step up and hit two free throws in a row. We’ve been pretty good from the line as a team and have won games because of free-throw shooting. (Tuesday), we almost lost a game because we didn’t shoot it well.”
The Vikings had tied it up at 37 on Lewis Finch’s put-back with 33 seconds left in regulation before Central (2-8, 2-3 BNC) went back up when an inbound pass from Austin Podsaid found Max Knoblock open underneath for a lay-up with 11.9 ticks remaining.
“We said whoever Jalen was guarding — and I think he’s the best athlete in the league — I was like, ‘You have to go to the elbow and take him two steps out so we can throw the lob in,’” Central coach Jeff Turner said. “And our kids did it. They made a good adjustment on the fly. A good inbound pass. A good finish. Great execution.”