Basketball

Basketball stock

John Watkins, File | The Times

VALPARAISO — Old friends of the Valparaiso boys basketball program took in Saturday night's game versus Times No. 2 Munster in the first-ever alumni night.

Whil‎e there were plenty of longtime amigos of the program at the game, the three ball turned out to be the No. 5 Vikings' best friend.

Valparaiso‎ hit 11 shots from long distance in its 56-55 win over the Mustangs, winning five out of its last six games.

Down 55-53, Vikings junior Brandon Newman got a nice feed from fellow junior Colin Walls and hit a go-ahead three from the top of the key with 0:08.

Munster (13-4) couldn't get a shot off on the ensuing inbounds play and its seven game winning streak was halted.

Walls, who had a game-high four assists, had all the confidence in the world that Newman would hit the shot.

"I knew he'd hit it. I just had to find a way to get him the ball," said Walls.

‎Valpo (11-4) has turned it up after losing three straight and Walls said it's because they have taken it up a level with its preparation.

"We've gotten after it more in practice‎ because then when we get in games we'll be more ready," he said.

Newman posted team highs of‎ 23 points and seven boards.

‎"This is the first time for a lot of the young guys on the team to be in a situation like this, so we'll be ready for it in a sectional or regional or wherever it happens," said Newman.

Down seven at the half, Munster got back to playing the basketball it is used to by hitting five of its first six shots of the ‎third quarter and limiting possessions, as it outscored the Vikings 17-6 in the third.

"We paid more attention to (Valpo junior Nate) Aerts and Newman in the third quarter because we were giving them too much space in the second quarter, so we told them to get into their shooters a little more," Munster coach Mike Hackett said. "They had run that play three or four times in a row and we talked about it in the walk through, at the half and in timeouts. We just didn't cover it."

Hackett had high praise for Newman and the rest of the Vikings.

"Big time players make big time shots and he's a big time player," he said. "It's a good team and they beat us."

This is the second game in a row where Valpo has hit a three late in the game after ‎Aerts hit one in OT to beat Merrillville on Friday.

"It's the experience of the guys during the season," Valpo coach Barak Coolman said of his team's ability in the clutch. "We've had lulls where we had the lead and let up, but Brandon made leadership strides (Saturday) and ‎the team stayed composed and didn't get rattled."

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