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Vikings beat back Friday Harbor rally in 44-33 win | Girls basketball

Top; The Vikings Anika Thomas applauds as sophomore April Hofman beats the buzzer with a desperation 3-point shot in Tuesday
Top; The Vikings Anika Thomas applauds as sophomore April Hofman beats the buzzer with a desperation 3-point shot in Tuesday's 44-33 win at Friday Harbor. (Friday Harbor Head Coach Eric Jangard - in the background -- hangs his head in disbelief). Below; The Vikings celebrate sophomore April Hofman's buzzer-beater while Head Coach Terry Moran-Hodge attempts to hide an embarrassed grin.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

The well went dry in the final minutes of play as Friday Harbor faded and the Vikings capped a 44-33 win with a burst of offense down the stretch Tuesday in Turnbull Gym.

Down by double-digits in the opening half, Friday Harbor clawed its way back into the contest and trailed by only four, at 30-26, at the end of the third period. When sophomore Kelsey Barnes grabbed a rebound and put it back up and in, the Wolverines had the hometown crowd on its feet and the score knotted at 31 all with just over four minutes left in regulation.

But at that point, the Friday Harbor rally took a wrong turn. And Orcas, which knocked down 8-of-9 free-throw attempts in final minutes, sealed win No. 5 in league play by outscoring the Wolverines 13-2 with the game on the line.

Though relieved by the outcome, Vikings' Head Coach Terry Moran-Hodge wasn't surprised that the contest was up for grabs up until the very end.

"Friday Harbor always plays us tough and especially here on their home court," Moran-Hodge said. "You can't take anything for granted in this league."

The Wolverines fell to 1-7 in league play while Orcas improved to 5-4. The Vikings remain locked in a three-way tie for second place in the Northwest 1A/2B League standings, along with Darrington and Mount Vernon Christian. La Conner, at 10-0, clinched the league title with a win Tuesday over Concrete.

Junior Stephanie Shaw, a perfect 4-of-4 at the free-throw stripe in the final minutes, tossed in 13 points to lead the Vikings on the offensive end. Senior Anika Thomas tallied nine points, Lanie Padbury had seven, and Sydney Harris and sophomore April Hofman each had six.

Friday Harbor Head Coach Eric Jangard gave credit to the Vikings for keeping their poise down the stretch. He noted that the Wolverines undermined their own chances by committing 24 turnovers, and that a disparity in points earned at the free-throw line didn't help either.

The Vikings tallied 17 points, on 26 attempts, at the free-throw stripe, while Friday Harbor, uncharacteristically cold at the line, made only 6-of-19 attempts, or 31 percent.

"That's 11 points right there," Jangard noted. "We're generally a lot sharper at the free throw line than that."

Barnes tallied a game-high 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to pace the Wolverines. She also had five steals. Junior Kayla Short and sophomore Maggie Anderson each had six.

The Vikings had victory in hand with just under a minute to play. But Hofman added insult to injury, though unwittingly, by flinging up a wild shot with one tick remaining on the 30-second clock that somehow caught the rim and swirled down the net for another three points. It's the first three-pointer of the season for the sophomore center and a shot that sent the Viking bench and fans into a frenzy.

"I knew there was only about one second left and I had to hit the rim with it," Hofman said. "I just kind of chucked it up and somehow it went in."

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