Vikings make lambs of Armidale Lions
THE Grafton Vikings put NSW State Basketball League newcomers Armidale to the sword on Saturday night with a commanding 85-56 victory in Grafton.
Despite being without regular starters Matt Moran and Shaun Murphy, the Vikings controlled the match from the opening tip-off to record the easiest of wins.
Mitch Cole continued his impressive start to the season, scoring 25 points to go with his 24 in the previous week's loss to Lismore.
Cameron Fishburn stepped up in Murphy's absence, dominating the paint with 15 points, while young Any Kopcikas made the most of his opportunity to play, with 13 points.
Grafton dominated the opening quarter despite a lack of defensive intensity, and led at the first change 23-13.
With the victory secured early coach Craig Howe had the luxury of giving his bench players extensive minutes, and they did not let him down.
Back up guards Kopcikas and Dirk Miller were particularly impressive.
Howe went back to his starters in the third quarter and the Vikings extended their lead further on the back of increased defensive pressure.
The home team limited the Lions to just nine points in the final quarter for a 29-point win.
The lack of defensive steel in the first quarter would be of concern to Howe, considering Grafton has built its success on defence in recent seasons.
Cole was far and away Grafton's best player.
He was near unstoppable under the basket, and considering he had very little court time, his 25-point return was all the more impressive.
The Vikings have a few weeks off before their next games on April 18 and 19 at home.