MBB: King shines as Beacons outlast Indiana State in double overtime
It’s hard to say that anything about Kobe King’s performance in his first two months in a Valparaiso uniform has been disappointing.
The Wisconsin transfer came into Saturday night’s game against Indiana State having scored in double figures in 11 of his 13 contests with the Beacons. King has averaged 14.2 points, good for second on the team, since making his Valparaiso debut on Dec. 7 and he’s been consistent in making contributions on both ends of the court.
Still, something has been missing.
When King didn’t immediately score 40 points a night while solving world hunger and correctly answering every Wordle puzzle in one try, it felt like a let down. Heavy lies the crown.
The breakout performance that everyone at the Athletics-Recreation Center, including King himself, was waiting on finally materialized on Saturday. King delivered a career performance with 24 points and 11 rebounds as Valparaiso outlasted the Sycamores 79-72 in double overtime. He had two different stretches where he scored seven straight points for the Beacons and when Valparaiso needed a big basket, the ball was often in King’s hands.
“(My teammates) stay on me and they trust me,” King said. “They keep at me and I just try to stay aggressive. It’s definitely a game I’ve been waiting for. I know I have it in me and I want to help us win, but it doesn’t always go that way. Hopefully we can keep it going. Again, (my teammates) put me in a great position and they trust me. That’s all that really matters.”
King was far from the only hero on Saturday night as the shorthanded Beacons once again came away victorious in overtime. Valparaiso has won three Missouri Valley Conference games at the ARC this season and all three have come in overtime. Kevion Taylor scored eight of his 20 points in the extra sessions while Sheldon Edwards knocked down a pair of huge 3-pointers late in the game. The first came with 2:28 left in regulation and it ended up being the shot that sent the game into overtime as both teams were scoreless for the rest of the second half. Edwards’ second key shot came with 1:31 left in the second overtime and it gave the Beacons a 74-70 lead that they would never relinquish.
“Character building moments,” Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said of winning yet another home game in overtime. “It was a typical Valley game. We have been here before. We learned how to keep our heads in moments. There’s been moments in games where we’ve gotten frustrated, hung our heads when teams are making runs on us. I didn’t see one example of that today.”
“We had a lot of opportunities where we could’ve hung our heads,” Edwards added. “Ben (Krikke) at the end of regulation, they called a travel where he felt like he was fouled. I got beat, I got backcut (by Cooper Neese) for them to take the lead. We didn’t hang our head and we just stayed positive and we ended up winning the game.”
Neese’s dunk after getting away from Edwards came with 34 seconds left in the first overtime and it appeared to be the game-winner when King missed a shot at the rim moments later. The senior corralled his own offensive rebound and put the ball back in to force a second overtime. King’s final basket of the night came on the first possession of the second overtime before he gave way to Edwards and Taylor. Edwards broke a 70-70 tie with four straight points and then Taylor muscled his way into the paint for a basket while getting fouled. His free throw stretched the lead to 77-70 and two more shots at the charity stripe gave Valparaiso a season sweep of the Sycamores.
Valparaiso finished with 15 assists, the most for the Beacons (11-12, 4-7) in their last nine games. Freshman point guard Darius DeAveiro led the team with four assists before exiting the game after taking a hard foul from Cameron Henry with 47 seconds left in the first overtime. Krikke and King each added three helpers.
“The thing I’m taking away from this game, Kobe is a scorer, Sheldon is a scorer, Ben’s a scorer, Kev is a scorer,” Lottich said. “I think sometimes, especially when we’ve been frustrated, we get into the single-minded like ‘Ok, I’ve got to score.’ I thought today, everyone played off of each other extremely well. I thought the ball popped, it moved. Maybe that’s a byproduct, Kobe’s night, Kevion’s night, Sheldon’s night, that’s a byproduct of the ball moving, the bodies moving, us trying to have a mindset of ‘I’m trying to make him better as my teammate.’ When you do that, everyone excels.”
Henry led the Sycamores (9-13, 2-8) with a career-high 28 points and eight assists. Neese knocked down five 3-pointers and added 17 points and six rebounds.
Valparaiso’s Thomas Kithier missed his third straight game with a back injury. Lottich said after the game that the Michigan State transfer has been doing some court work and could be getting close to a return.
Also in street clothes on Saturday: Trevor Anderson (back, out for the year), Connor Barrett (undisclosed), Emil Freese-Vilien (medical), Cam Palesse (redshirt), Keyondre Young (thumb).
DeAveiro left the game when Henry ran over the point guard on a 3-point attempt late in the first overtime. Indiana State coach Josh Schertz selected King to take the three free throws and it turned out to be a good selection as King missed two of the three shots. DeAveiro was moving under his own power on the sidelines after the foul, but he never returned to the game.
The Beacons won their third straight game against the Sycamores, marking the first time since 2001-03 that Valparaiso has beaten Indiana State in three straight meetings. The two wins this season mark the first time since 1966-67 that Valparaiso has won two games against the Sycamores in the same year.
The announced crowd of 1,908 was the most at the ARC for a Valley game this year. Lottich, King and Edwards all remarked on the energy of the crowd in the postgame press conference. When the final buzzer sounded, Valpo’s players ran over to the student section to celebrate.
The best moment of Saturday’s game came late in the first half when Edwards was backing down Neese outside the paint. The two players got tangled up and Edwards took a hard fall on the ground. With play continuing around them, Neese bent over to help Edwards to his feet. The moment wasn’t lost on Edwards. “I have that type of connection with a lot of players in the conference. People I don’t know personally, but we just click as competitors. We want to see each other do well and we want to make each other better. Obviously we still want to win.”
Credit Valparaiso student manager Zac Sewell for getting a handful of calls correct when the officials went to the monitor. Sewell started as an IHSAA official this year and he was watching the video feed during Saturday’s game. When the officials went to the monitor on 37 different occasions, Sewell was johnny on the call in every instance.
A reminder that game coverage is free on The Victory Bell. Extended coverage, such as Friday’s look at how Trevor Anderson is mentoring freshmen point guards Preston Ruedinger and Darius DeAveiro while all three share the bond of having fathers who are basketball coaches, is available for the low cost of $5/month of $49.99 per year.
(Photo provided by Valparaiso Athletics)