CHESTERTON | At one end of the court, Valparaiso senior Scott Martin would get the best of Chesterton junior Zack Novak.
Seconds later at the other end, Novak would return the favor.
Offense or defense. It didn't matter.
The matchup between two future Division I players was as entertaining as it was crucial in Wednesday's Duneland Athletic Conference game before a near-capacity holiday-break crowd.
Ultimately, Martin's Vikings escaped with a hard-fought 52-44 victory.
Martin filled up the stat sheet with 28 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals. But it came with a price.
Martin left the locker room with a huge ice pack on his right wrist, the result of a fall after one of his two dunks.
"It will be fine," Martin insisted. "I came down on it funny."
Novak had 15 points and 11 rebounds but struggled mightily in the second half after Valpo went to a zone defense.
At one point in the third quarter, Novak scored six consecutive points on explosive drives to the basket while being checked not only by Martin but also fellow Purdue recruit Rob Hummel.
"Novak is a load," Valpo coach Bob Punter said. "Last year we were able to control him, but not this time. He was definitely a force."
The 6-foot-5 Novak, who said he has a scholarship offer on the table from Valparaiso University, scored most of his points inside. But he went cold late in the game, when the Vikings put together a game-clinching 15-0 run.
"One of my big things was to keep (Martin) off the offensive boards," Novak said. "I did OK with that, but he's a lot bigger than me and he can raise up and jump over me.
"There's not much I can do about that."
"Scott had to earn his points," Chesterton coach Tom Peller said. "I thought Zack did a good job trying to stop him."
Martin had a rebound dunk and an alley-oop off a Trent Redington feed in the first half, which tied the game at 20. Hummel took over the scoring load after the break, but Martin hit 6 of 7 free throws down the stretch to help seal the win.
The victory was Valpo's 100th in the all-time series against Chesterton. The Vikings lead 100-26 (.793) in a series that began with a 45-13 Valpo win in a 1926 sectional game.
"The Chesterton kids don't know about that," Punter said. "We just try to instill in our kids that somehow, some way we're going to win the ballgame."