CHESTERTON | Chesterton gave Times No. 4 Valparaiso a dose of its own medicine Friday night in Porter County's premier Duneland Athletic Conference rivalry.
The Trojans grabbed a big early lead, worked the clock and beat a Viking press down the stretch in recording a 48-30 victory, snapping a six-game losing streak.
Oh, and it also snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Vikings. Chesterton's last victory came in December 2008, when Tommy Peller drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 51-50 win.
"It's been a while," said Chesterton coach Tom Peller, who remembered his son's game-winner very well. "This team has had our number. We've been close but we haven't got it done."
Chesterton (10-9, 3-4 DAC) avenged a 52-45 loss to the Vikings in the DAC tournament, a game in which senior Cole Teal did not play due to a shoulder injury.
Teal certainly made up for lost time. He drilled 4-of-6 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 20 points, while Jacob Wasielewski added 16 points with 12 in the fourth quarter coming on layups after the Trojans broke the press.
Teal hit a momentum-building 3-pointer with six seconds remaining in the half to give the Trojans a 13-8 lead at the break.
"This is tremendous for him as a senior," Peller said. "It's been a tough year for him. I'm so happy for him to be able to do this on a stage like this."
Defensively, the Trojans held the Vikings to just one field goal in each of the first three quarters. Valpo shot just 8-of-25 (22.8 percent) overall and no one scored in double figures.
The Vikings (11-8, 4-3 DAC) trailed 25-14 after three quarters and looked nothing like the team that beat Munster on Saturday night.
"It was important to get a lead on them because we knew they are smart and know how to be patient," Peller said. "We had to come out and be aggressive."
Muscular 5-foot-10 senior Andrew Ralph didn't score a point for the Trojans, but his defense on Valpo sharpshooter Justin Osburn was a big factor. Osburn didn't get a good look from 3-point range until early in the third quarter and finished with seven points on 1-of-7 shooting.
"He's a great athlete," Valpo coach Matt Thomas said of Ralph. "But every one of them as a group was into us defensively."
Teal doubled up the score at 28-14 with a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, and Valpo was in catch-up mode the rest of the way.
"He had a huge impact," Thomas said. "He's a very confident player. You could tell when he was left open that he was going to knock it down."
The Vikings did force some turnovers midway through the fourth quarter, and senior Alex Healy hit a 3-pointer with 2:22 remaining to get his team within 34-28.
But the Trojans settled down, converted all eight of their free throws down the stretch and took care of the basketball to secure the win.
"What a good win it was," Peller said. "It's really important for our psyche after losing six in a row. It's been tough, but we played one of our better games of the year."
Chesterton junior Chris Palombizio, a Western Michigan recruit, went down with an apparent injury to his left leg with 7:18 remaining in the game. He did not return and was with the trainer afterwards.
"It's very serious, it doesn't look good," Peller said.