Playing aggressively on defense and hitting eight three-point baskets, the Normandy Vikings posted the first upset in the 66th Annual St. Francis Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament Tuesday night.
The fifth-seeded Vikings topped No. 4 Washington, 66-47.
“It was kind of tough,” Washington Head Coach Grant Young said. “We have a young group with three seniors, two juniors and five sophomores we brought for this tournament. There’s a lot of learning going on and that’s OK. There was a lot of nervousness coming in. We’ll get better each game. We’re not worried because we have kids who are willing to work hard and improve each game. We just don’t have a lot of varsity experience out there.”
Young said it’s one of the best Normandy teams he’s seen at the Turkey Tournament.
“Credit Normandy’s quickness with their guards,” Young said. “They’re a very athletic team. They’ve improved a lot over the past three years with Coach (Nathaniel) Griffin at the helm. Quickness and athletic ability is something you can’t teach. That makes us feel better to know that we’re one step behind right now.
“This was a good test for us to know what we have to do to get better in handling the ball, doing a better job of getting the 50-50 balls and finishing around the basket,” Young continued. “Our guys moved from playing freshman basketball last year to varsity this year. It’s a different intensity level. It will come.”
Normandy advances to play top-seeded St. Francis Borgia Regional in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m. The Blue Jays will face Owensville Friday at 3 p.m. in the consolation semifinals.
“It will be two teams looking to find their identity early in the season,” Young said. “Both teams will be fighting to see who can pull out that first win of the season. It should be a good game as both teams are young, very similar and play man-to-man and 2-3 matchup zone. We’ve got to go back to practice and work hard to be prepared for them.”
Senior Terron Robinson led the Vikings with 22 points. He knocked down three three-point baskets and went 3-6 from the free-throw line.
Senior Brandon Branscomb scored 16 points with one three-point basket. He went 3-4 from the free-throw line.
Other Normandy scorers were junior Dominic Wilbourn with eight points, senior Layton Martin with five points, sophomore Omarion Henry with four points, seniors Joseph Washington and Arihus Coleman with three points each, seniors Jerome Chapman and Terrance Barton with two points apiece and senior Dershun Hunt with one point.
Sophomore Ryan Hoerstkamp led Washington with 15 points and went 5-8 from the free-throw line.
“The most experienced player we had out there was a sophomore,” Young said. “He played varsity for us last year. We lost a lot of upperclassmen last year. It’s a learning process we’ll go through all year. We’re behind our kids 100 percent. We know they’re young and they’ll make mistakes. We don’t want to be making the same mistakes after six or seven games, so we’ll go practice and keep improving.”
Senior Alec Brinkmann was next with eight points and he knocked down one three-point shot.
Sophomore Jason Sides, senior Colton Souders and sophomore Zach Coulter each scored six points.
Senior Rett Corley scored four points while sophomore Brigham Broadbent added two points.
During the first quarter, Normandy jumped on top early, but Washington was able to fight back through the middle of the quarter. The Vikings were able to pressure Washington’s ballhandlers to the point where they caused turnovers and that helped Normandy take a slim lead after eight minutes, 13-9.
The game was closer than that. Wilbourn knocked down a pair of free throws with no time on the clock after he was fouled on the quarter’s final shot.
In the second quarter, Washington got back-to-back baskets from Souders to cut the gap to 20-18, but stalled at that point.
The Vikings went on a run down the stretch to force Young to take a pair of timeouts. The run included a pair of three-point shots, a Terron Robinson dunk and a basket off of a rebound.
Normandy led 34-25 at the half.
“In the first half, their offensive rebounds hurt us,” Young said. “They scored off of four of the five that they got. That made a difference because they had a nine-point halftime lead. In the first four minutes of the third quarter, they were able to push in offensive transition and that really killed us.”
From there, Normandy was able to control the game’s flow. Washington had positive play, but never was able to make Normandy worry about holding the lead in the second half.
The Vikings led Washington 52-31 through three quarters.
“We had a lot of heart in the fourth quarter, but we just got ourselves into too big of a hole at the end of the second quarter and start of the third quarter,” Young said. “It will make us a better team in the long run.”
Besides hitting eight three-point baskets, Normandy also went 10-18 from the free-throw line.
Washington hit three three-point shots and went 8-16 from the free-throw line.