Runnin’ Vikes take a 3-game winning streak into NWAC East opener Wednesday

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Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin HeraldBig Bend small forward Mauricio Smith finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in the Runnin' Vikes victory over Grays Harbor on Friday.

GRAYS HARBOR — They’ve had 12 games to get their legs under them and figure some things out, now the work starts for the Big Bend Runnin’ Vikes. First-year Big Bend head coach Mingo Scott is hoping Friday’s 82-69 victory over Grays Harbor is the kick-start they need going into the Northwest Athletic Conference East schedule.

The Runnin’ Vikes (7-5, 1-0 NWAC) stepped on the gas from the get-go, blowing out to a 41-18 lead at the intermission. But it wasn’t so much the offense that made the difference, but the lock-down defense, Scott said.

“We got to running pretty well, but it was because of a great defensive effort. When we got stops, we had some easy buckets that turned into the big lead,” Scott said. “We got complacent in the second half, but with such a big lead we were able to finish.”

Big Bend was 31-of-72 from the floor for a shooting percentage of 43.1. The Runnin’ Vikes knocked down 35.3 percent from 3-point range, making 6-of-17. The defense that allowed them to run the floor.

Big Bend generated 18 Grays Harbor (1-11, 0-1 NWAC) turnovers and scored 15 points off the mistakes.

Koby Huerta, a 5-foot-9 point guard out of Covington, was 9-of-15 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from downtown, to lead the Runnin’ Vikes with 27 points. Huerta is ranked 11th in scoring in the NWAC with an average of 20.6 points a game and sixth in 3-point goals at 49.1 percent.

Blake Dittman added 18 and DeAngelo Stowers came off the bench and contributed 12.

Miles Brown is ranked third in rebounding with a 9.6 average, hauling in 82 on the defensive glass. The 6-7 freshman from Sandy, Ore., had nine boards against Grays Harbor, as did Mauricio Smith.

“It’s a nice little winning streak going into the league against Wenatchee Valley (on Wednesday) after the first of the year,” Scott said.

Community Colleges of Spokane (11-3) comes out of the holiday break on top of the NWAC East standings, followed by Walla Walla and (10-4), North Idaho (9-3) and Yakima Valley (9-4).

The Runnin’ Vikes take a three-game winning streak into Wednesday night’s game against Wenatchee Valley (7-4). They have a chance to move up in the NWAC East standings with a win at DeVries Activity Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Big Bend            41  41 -  82

Grays Harbor     18  51 -   69

Big Bend - Mauricio Smith 11, Koby Huerta 27, Christopher Hawkins 8, Blake Dittman 18, Miles Brown 2, Parker Christensen 2, DeAngelo Stowers 12, Ben Kuiper 2. Totals: 31-72 14-20 82

Grays Harbor - Jalen Starks 14, Blake Ling 11, Cornelius Holifield 9, Caleb Thomas 5, Cal Fischer 8, Will Weems 6, Guy Bean 9, Zach Marrotte 7. Totals: 27-79 8-13 69.

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