PORTAGE | Jack Hibbard's team had already been eliminated before he finished his first set at No. 1 singles Wednesday, but the Wheeler junior found a way to extend his season.
Hibbard waged a battle from the baseline, net, plus the left and right sides of the court against Valparaiso's Peter Williams, making enough quality shots for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
The Vikings defeated the Bearcats 4-1 and meet Chesterton in today's team championship at the Portage Sectional. Hibbard moves on to Tuesday's session of the individual singles tournament.
"I just maintained a positive attitude," Hibbard said. "I thought I played pretty well."
Hibbard rallied from a 4-3 deficit to win the last three games of the first set, built a 5-1 lead in the second, dropped a 10-plus-minute seventh game and the eighth before hanging on for the win.
"I had to dig deeper, but (Williams) was also digging deep," Hibbard said. "He was getting to every shot, and I didn't know if I would be able to put him away.
"I just had to leave everything out there."
The Vikings (12-5) are now a win away from their 27th overall crown and 18th in a row. They dropped only two games in their four match wins in the semifinals.
"We got off to a great start; we came out ready," Shideler said. "We hadn't played (Wheeler) this season. We weren't looking past them. We didn't know what to expect."
Chesterton's Johny Mario expected to be challenged by Portage's John Fannin in their No. 1 singles match, so the freshman had to step up his game. Mario won 6-1, 6-0 during the regular season.
"I had to make sure I was ready for everything he was going to throw at me, said Mario, who won the rematch 6-1, 6-2. "He made me think a little. I made him move around and make him hit a variety of shots."
Chesterton advanced with a 4-1 win. Mario's focus is now on the Vikings, who swept Chesterton 5-0 on Sept. 19.
"(That loss) provides us with some motivation," said Mario, who lost in three sets to Williams. "We're going to give them a heckuva match. I think we'll play a lot harder than we did the last time."