Posted on February 24, 2009 by Dylan Anderson

The Augustana men�s basketball team wrapped up the regular season on the road as they paid a rare two game visit to Grande Prairie.

 The Augustana men’s basketball team wrapped up the regular season on the road as they paid a rare two game visit to Grande Prairie where they faced the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves. Going into the weekend, the teams were tied in the standings and both squads were hoping to use the regular season finale to gain positive closure to a tumultuous season. As some readers may know, it was on February 13, 1866 that Jesse James and the James gang robbed their first bank. Could the Vikings, in a tip of the hat to American history, steal a victory from the Wolves in Grande Prairie? Or would it be a black Valentine’s for the Vikings? Things were not looking rosy for Augustana in the early going as they saw the Wolves stake claim to a four point lead at the end of the first quarter. The score at halftime was 44-34 for the home team and the Vikings were looking to right the ship for the second half. The Vikings stole nine points back with a 23-14 effort in the third quarter, followed by a 25-23 fourth quarter, giving them a hard-fought one point win. The final score was 82-81. Kevin Barnes was the Vikings’ player of the game with 12 points, five rebounds and eight assists as he led the posse for the visitors from Augustana. Alex Butts and David Chytracek each had 11 points and four rebounds, while forwards Joe Knight (13 points, six rebounds) and Mike McCorquindale (12 points and six boards) all contributed to the cause. Guard David Ness was limited to eight points but made up for it with a 12 rebound performance to help lock down the win.

Saturday found the Vikings celebrating Valentine’s Day in Grande Prairie as they played a matinee game to finish the regular season. Could the Vikings be heartbreakers? Would they finish the season with a series sweep of the host Wolves? Regulation time would not find the answer to these questions. The first quarter saw Augustana jump out to a five point lead and nurse it into the halftime break. In the second half the Wolves were nipping at theheals of the Vikings for 20 minutes as both teams created memorable moments for the crowd to savor. The Vikings needed a last second three-point miracle from fifth-year guard Brendin Huculak to force the game into overtime, the heart-stopping shot being so appropriate on the day. The crowd was electric as the teams prepared for the extra frame, the teams all square at 95. The Vikings, led by Huculak’s red-hot shooting and a using total team defensive effort, outscored the Wolves 15-7 in the five minute overtime to close out the regular on a winning note. As the dust settled on this old-west shootout, it was Augustana holding the 110-102 win. Player of the game Huculak finished with 18 points (11 in the overtime), six rebounds, five assists and two steals in his final game in the red and black. First-year forward Alex Butts had a gritty effort for the Vikings, hitting the floor for loose balls at key moments. Butts finished the game with three blocked shots, six rebounds and 13 points. Mike McCorquindale had 11 points and seven rebounds. David Ness (16 points, five rebounds, three assists) was perfect from the free-throw line (nine for nine), as was guard Kevin Barnes (10 for 10). Barnes finished with 21 points, three steals, and three assists.

Buzzer Beaters: The team finished the regular season with a 7-17 record, missing the playoffs by two games. Their 87 blocked shots on the season gave Augustana first place in the ACAC in this category and set a new team record for the conference, beating the old mark of 72. Second-year forward Joseph Knight set a new ACAC single game record for blocked shots in a game with seven on November 21st, 2008.

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