Through two games at the Kankakee Holiday Tournament, the Illiana Christian Vikings have done just enough to get by.
And while Vikings coach Thomas Roozeboom would certainly prefer his team not flirt with potential disaster, he'll take victories like Friday's 58-52 win over Herscher any time.
"We knew today was going to be a little tougher as it should be," Roozeboom said. "And for us, if this would have been a couple of games before, we might have let the lead go and been on the other end of it."
They weren't, largely because of a litany of clutch shots down the stretch, more than a few of them by Brandon Galambos.
Galambos and Matthew Zandstra scored all of Illiana's fourth quarter points and each time it appeared that Herscher was on the verge of making something happen, that tandem turned the Tigers away.
Galambos entered the fourth quarter by stretching Illiana's sparse lead to seven points with a basket and then after Herscher rattled off five straight points to close within two, Galambos canned a huge 3-pointer to give the Vikings needed breathing room.
Herscher answered that shot with a pair of Grant Billings free throws, but even though Illiana didn't need to release the basketball with the lead, Zandstra drained a 12-footer to push the lead back. Free throws from Zandstra and another bucket from Galambos put the Vikings into a comfort zone.
"We would have liked to have played a more full game, but we'll take it," Roozeboom said. "We played well in spurts, but obviously we are going to have to step up our game."
Galambos finished with a game-high 23 points while Zandstra also accounted for 14.
The Vikings play Clifton Central today in the championship game. Central beat Peotone, 62-51, in the other semifinal game on Friday.
Herscher (4-6) dug itself an early hole and trailed, 20-13, after the first quarter. Most of that could be directly related to the Tigers struggles corralling rebounds and loose balls. Illiana outrebounded the taller Tigers by nine but most of that advantage was amassed early in the contest.
The Tigers solidified later largely due to Billings, who broke through with a 15-point, nine-rebound effort. But it was too late.
"A lot of people talk about how big we are, but what we aren't is very physical," Herscher coach Todd Schwarzkopf said. "But we made some strides and that's why you play good teams, to get better in the areas where you aren't quite as strong. We're coming around."