For the Spring Valley Vikings, the game has changed.
Playing in the Capital City Roundball Classic at Keenan on Thursday, the Vikings defeated Marlboro County 68-21.
But this year’s young and inexperienced Vikings are still looking to reestablish the dominant court presence of years past.
“We’re not where we want to be but we’re doing well,” said coach Anne Long of her 8-3 Vikings. “It’s a good start.”
Against the Bulldogs, Spring Valley took a large lead early by capitalizing on Marlboro County’s low energy and poor ball handling.
The Vikings grabbed seven turnovers in the first nine minutes and got eight points off them to build a 16-point lead. But with junior Cierra Carter the only returning starter from last season’s powerful squad, Spring Valley lacked the consistent shooting and dominating post presence that had become its calling card.
Spring Valley could not get much perimeter scoring early, but Akia Dunlap and Megan Davis kept the squad moving along with second-chance points. Dunlap, a sophomore guard, energized the Vikings late in the period with six consecutive points.
She had posted 12 by the half, helping stake Spring Valley to a 36-16 lead.
In the second half, while Marlboro County’s ball control struggles continued, the Vikings made fewer mistakes and began to look more settled and organized.
Carter posted eight points in the half, and finished with a game-leading 18. Carter also had four steals and eight rebounds. Dunlap and senior Latisha Smith each had five steals.
“We needed to cut down on our mistakes,” Long said. “We’re just working on getting the little things right, more and more.”
It’s a theme that will continue for the Vikings through the tournament and remainder of the season, as the squad looks to build experience. The Vikings got 22 points off their bench.