Luke Sims looks to drive to the basket past the Ludlow defense in the Vikings’ loss to the Panthers on Wednesday afternoon.

Luke Sims was the man of the hour for the Vikings when he put up an impressive 25 points, including nine from deep and eight free throws. Unfortunately for the Vikings, they couldn’t finish when it came to the end and St. Mary fell to Ludlow 66-59 in their first game of the Independence Bank Classic.

It was a slow start for the Vikings coming out the game as they trailed 14-6 early in the first quarter. St. Mary found their rhythm and would go on a 5-0 run to come back to a four point deficit to end the quarter 18-14.

From there it would be a neck and neck battle as the Panthers maintained their lead but could never quite break away. In face the Vikings cut the deficit to just one point several times in the quarter before tying the game at 27 to end the half. Brandon Quigley put up six points as part of the Vikings successful second period and helped outscore the Panthers 13-9 in the quarter.

“That was by far our worst defensive game of the year so far,” St. Mary head coach Chase Denson said. “We found some things to hang our hats on defensively as far as playing hard but we just weren’t very good defensively and that was the big difference for us.”

It was once again a battle for the Vikings to get the stops necessary to gain the lead coming out in the second half. They gained it for a split second with a 35-34 lead midway through the third quarter but it wouldn’t last long.

The third quarter was where Sims came alive; having only scored five points in the first half of play. He made sure to give it his all in every play down the court. He forced his way to the basket on multiple possessions in an effort to get an and-one situation. He made two trips to the charity stripe where we made 3-4 and put up eight points in the third quarter, including his first three-point bucket.

Ludlow did just enough to keep the Vikings out of reach of the lead the remainder of the game, with a 43-39 lead going into the fourth quarter. The closest St. Mary would be able to get to the Panthers would be at the 49-46 mark and again at 56-53, but Ludlow would go on a few short spurts to build the deficit up to as much as six.

In the end the Panthers would pull out the 66-58 win over the Vikings. They will play Butler County on Thursday before heading to Apollo for a New Year’s Eve game scheduled for 1 p.m. Their next home game will be against Community Christian Academy on Jan. 6.

St. Mary 14 27 39 58

Ludlow 18 27 43 66

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