COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD
MOSES LAKE — The Big Bend Runnin' Vikes will need to win six of their remaining eight games to be in the discussion of qualifying for the NWAC tournament.
On Saturday afternoon, they ended a three-game skid with an everybody's-stats-get-well kind of game, beating Blue Mountain 118-78 with one of their biggest point productions of the season. The Runnin' Vikes (13-6, 3-5 NWAC East) have gone 3-5 since opening the NWAC East Jan. 2 against the defending NWAC champion North Idaho College. Saturday's blowout win snapped a skid, but more importantly, it was one they had to have as they push toward that fourth and final playoff spot in the East Region.
"Right now we're focusing getting to .500 in the league. If we can get to nine wins out of 15 games, you're probably going to get in," Vikings coach Minto Scott said. "We're going to need to win six of the next eight games. Five of those are at home, so it's doable."
They probably won't have the services of Denis Ulyanchuk of Moses Lake, who has had knee issues since the opening game. Joey Andrews, the second-leading scorer on the team, rolled an ankle against Treasure Valley and is out three weeks. He says he'll be back for the final four games, but it's wait and see for the 6-foot-5 sophomore from Riverton, Utah, who's averaging 19 points a game.
As for Blue Mountain (4-15, 2-6 NWAC East), it was just a nice way to stop the bleeding and get back on the winning track.
Ben Kuiper came off the bench and gave the Runnin' Vikes a career night with 24 points and seven rebounds, four coming off the offensive glass. Former Almira/Coulee-Hartline standout Payton Nielsen has been starting at the small forward in place of the injured Andrews. The former ACH Warrior was large on the boards with 18 rebounds and 11 points for the double-double. In fact, Nielsen had 10 of his game-high 18 rebounds in the first half, which is more than the Timberwolves had as a team at the intermission.
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