By Mitch Farley
It was old versus young, alumni versus current students, in the first exhibition game of the season on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 27. With nostalgia in the air from the alumni and an unmistakable shoe screech piercing the gymnasium floor, the Vikings took the court, ready to face the skilled Western graduates.
“These guys are talented, and they play really well together,” junior forward Trevor Jasinsky said. “It’s a fun little rivalry between us, older guys versus young.”
The Vikings lost by 10 points with a final score of 104-94. The first half was a battle for the lead with both teams going bucket for bucket, ending with a halftime score of 49-48, the Slam team leading.
Junior Cameron Retherford got off to a strong start with two quick lay-ups, both came from bounce passes threaded through the Slam’s defense.
Guards Micah Winn and Tyler Payne took turns leading the team at point guard. Winn was the leading scorer on the night with 23 points. Payne, going into his senior year with the team, had eight points and four assists.
True Freshman Jalen Green saw playing time in the first quarter coming in at forward. Freshman D’Angelo Minnis also saw his first non-scrimmage performance for the Vikings.
“We’ve gotta throw these guys in and see them against really good players,” Head Coach Tony Dominguez said.
Winn showed a dominating force with impressive composure and ball control as his quick feet allowed him to drive past the Slam’s defense. His big ups and soft touch allowed him to soar high and put up smooth floaters, scoring 17 points in the first half.
Unlike a regular season game, the exhibition game was played in two 20-minute halves and Jasinsky said it was a nice preview for how the team plays together before the regular season.
The Slam’s guard Mo Anderson had a double-double on the night with an impressive 11 assists, two of which came from behind the back passes in the second half.
All-American guard Jacob Stevenson led the Slam with 26 points. Ricardo Maxwell, who graduated from Western in 2015, led the team in rebounds with eight and also added 16 points to the Slam’s score.
The Vikings showed true brotherhood by huddling together for encouragement after each foul. Jasinsky said he looks forward to the team learning from each other and continuing to grow together.
“These guys [Whatcom Slam] are some of the all-time greats but this was good for us because I want my guys to know what we can elevate our game to,” Dominguez said. “I’d like to see us being more physical.”
The Vikings’ next game will be an away game in La Jolla, California for the California Collegiate Athletic Associate and Great Northwest Athletic Conference Challenge.