VALPARAISO | Around the time its season began to go downhill last year, Valparaiso was staring its first two-game losing streak square in the face Friday, trailing Chesterton by 10 at halftime.
"Coach (Joe Otis) reads the papers and he said how one of them dropped us to seventh, here it goes, a repeat of last year, Valpo's started fading," senior John Mosser said. "We're not going to sit here and pretend it didn't happen, but that's the past. We don't want it to happen this year."
Mosser scored 22 points while snagging 12 rebounds, keying a third-quarter rally, and his teammates came up big in the fourth, when the Times No. 5 Vikings held on for a 56-54 Duneland Athletic Conference victory.
"I'm proud of them. They really stepped up," Otis said. "John almost single-handedly saved us in the first half. We didn't get the effort (then) we wanted, but we didn't waste any time getting back in it, and I think they fed off that. We finally got a little momentum."
No. 6 Chesterton (9-7, 6-5) hit five 3s in the second quarter to take control, while Valpo (13-3, 9-2) was stone cold. That quickly changed after the half. Mosser and Justin Osburn drained treys in a 9-0 run to cut the margin to three.
"That's how we got back in the game," Otis said of the outside shooting. "Justin hit a couple and the others finally started waking up. We were losing people (in the first half). We re-doubled our (defensive) efforts and coaches (Ben) Lieske and (Brent) Kimmel had us start switching."
The trio of Tyler Doane, Brody Wilson and Zach Meyer totaled one point through three quarters. In the fourth, they scored 17 of Valpo's 21.
"Valpo started making shots," Chesterton coach Tom Peller said. "It wasn't anything big, but I just thought we got a little impatient."
Wilson's 3 broke a 40-40 tie. Doane then scored the next six, including an acrobatic layup, to put the Vikings up 49-42.
"Tyler made a couple spectacular plays," Otis said.
The Trojans pulled even at 49 on a Chris Palombizio 3, but Wilson countered seconds later and Valpo was able to withstand four missed free throws down the stretch. Chesterton had two possessions in the last minute, trailing by two, but Cole Teal couldn't convert in the lane the first time and then had the ball knocked loose in the final seconds.
"I thought we had a pretty decent shot," Peller said. "Cole made a nice split. He just couldn't get it to go."
Holba matched Mosser with 22 points and claimed 11 caroms.
The win, coming on a breast cancer awareness night, was particularly special to Mosser, who lost his mom Paula to the disease when he was 5 or 6. He pointed to the sky in her honor after making his first shot.
"It was pretty emotional for me," he said. "I wanted to come out and play my best for her."