VALPARAISO | Those arriving late to Viking Gym on Thursday night may have had to wipe their eyes and shake their heads at around 8 p.m.
After an early start due to a snappy junior varsity game, Times No. 3 Valparaiso played one of its best halves of the season, jumping out to a 33-15 lead over No. 5 Lake Central and star big man Tyler Wideman.
The Vikings needed just about all of that lead, holding off the Indians 55-46 in a Duneland Athletic Conference battle for second place.
Wideman ended up with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, but he was limited to just three points in the first half when he picked up a pair of early fouls. He responded in the second half, coming back strong with eight third-quarter points as the Indians (11-7, 8-4 DAC) cut Valpo's lead to single digits at 37-28.
Valpo's John Mosser played like he had something to prove, scoring 14 of his team-high 15 points in the first half. He was 6-for-6 shooting, which included a pair of 3-pointers, before the break and finished with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
"Mosser was awesome in the first half," Valpo coach Joe Otis said. "But our whole team played well in the second half."
The Vikings (15-3, 10-2 DAC) struggled early in the third quarter, missing their first three shots while committing three turnovers.
Following a Wideman dunk after a steal in the backcourt, Justin Osburn finally got the Vikings on the board with a 3-pointer off a Mosser assist to give his team some breathing room at 36-24 and take away some of L.C.'s momentum.
Lake Central's Corry Dickelman converted a three-point play at 1:45 of the third quarter to get the Indians within 37-31, but Valpo responded with a 3-pointer by Zach Meyer and a tip-in by Quentin Palmer in the final minute to boost the lead to 42-31 heading into the fourth.
The Vikings 6 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, not outstanding but enough to hold on at the finish.
For Lake Central, Mike Miklusak added 10 points which included a pair of 3-pointers.
No other Valpo player reached double figures, but Osburn and Tyler Doane each finished with nine and Meyer had eight points.