VALPARAISO | The first game of the Joe Otis era for the Valparaiso girls basketball team was not without drama.
The Vikings fell behind early, then rallied to take the lead and held on in the closing seconds to open the season with a 55-52 win over the Times No. 8 Kougars on Tuesday night.
Valparaiso’s Stephanie Parker scored five points in a 25-second span in the fourth quarter to give her team the lead for good.
She made a pair of free throws to give the Vikings (1-0) a 48-47 lead, and had an offensive putback that resulted in a three-point play on the next possession to up the lead to 51-47.
The Kougars (0-1) had a chance to get a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds, but Parker intercepted the inbounds pass and dribbled out the clock.
Parker finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Grace Withrow scored a game-high 25 for the Vikings. She had 10 points in the third quarter.
Bethany Jansma led the Kougars with 17 points. Breanna Toppen had 14 points, and Lauren Stokes added 12.
The Kougars opened up a 16-7 lead late in the first quarter. Jansma capped a 7-0 K.V. run with back-to-back buckets. Her 3-pointer from the corner pushed the lead to nine.
From that point on for the rest of the half, the Vikings clamped down on defense. Over the final nine minutes of the first half, Valparaiso outscored the Kougars 13-4.
The Vikings held the Kougars to just 2-of-10 shooting in the second quarter and forced six K.V. turnovers.