VALPARAISO | Valparaiso locked up Hobart defensively Saturday night on its way to a dominating 63-26 victory at Viking Gym.
New coach Matt Thomas' crew held the Brickies scoreless through most of the first quarter. Hobart, playing its season opener, missed its first 17 shots from the field and trailed 28-6 at the break.
"They care a lot (about defense)," Thomas said. "That's the kind of kids they are. They're good students in the classroom, and whatever they do they try to do it well. When you have a program with kids like that, it's fun to coach."
Valpo (2-0) led 18-0 before Hobart finally got a pair of free throws from Juan Lamar with 39.2 seconds remaining in the opening period. The Brickies didn't make their first field goal until the 1:52 mark of the second quarter on a 15-foot jumper by Zach Catlin.
By then, Valpo senior Justin Osburn was already dialed in. The 5-foot-11 guard hit his first three 3-pointer of the game on his way to 15 points.
"Some of those were play calls (for Osburn) but others were just good offense," Thomas said. "It was kids making the right read and passing out of the post. We have unselfish guys, and so even if I don't call all the plays, if he's open they're going to pass it and he would do the same thing."
Sophomore Conner Tenhove, a 6-foot-8 post player, added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Vikings. Brandon Nicholas scored eight points, all in a foul-plagued third quarter.
Valpo held Hobart to 7-of-41 shooting (17.1 percent). Catlin led the Brickies with seven points while Lamar had six points and seven rebounds.
Thomas was able to empty his bench for the entire fourth quarter after the Vikings took a 50-21 advantage. Sophomore guard Steve Helm led the reserves with seven points, and Thomas praised the contributions of seniors Matt Hoyert (two points), Mitch Wszolek (two points, two rebounds) and Andrew Mears (two assists).
"They didn't get to play against Boone Grove (on Wednesday), but they still come to practice every day and play hard," Thomas said. "It was really well-deserved for them to have a nice, full quarter to play."