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Vikings finish tournament season

IMPERIAL • In its final tourney tune-up to the regular season, the Barstow Community College men’s basketball team went 1-2 at the Imperial Valley College Tournament over the holiday weekend.

The Vikings took a big win in their first game, 72-50, over Cuyamaca. That was followed by a pair of two-point losses to Miramar (64-62) and Imperial Valley (71-69).

Vikings head coach Reggie Howard was encouraged by the results, and the strides forward his team has taken over the course of the tournament season.

“The Cuyamaca game was a good team win. We competed well against Miramar and they’re a decent team,” he said. “This tournament was a good barometer of where we are.”

The Vikings have been steadily improving on offense, and were led at Imperial by Erik Burns. The Barstow High School grad scored 24 points in the Cuyamaca win and averaged 15 points-per-game in the tourney. Shey Mataele averaged 13 points and five assists, and Evan Jenkins, while battling the flu, averaged nine points. Denzel McCloney also played through adversity, having just returned from an injury.

The Vikings start their Foothill Conference schedule this weekend. They went 2-10 in the tourney season. The team is a young one, with nine freshmen, and coach Howard expects a little more adjustment time.

“Many of the players have seen tough competition, but not on a regular basis. A school like Chaffey, for instance, is made up of the best players from 30 different high schools. The league is tough, it’s like going up against a top high school team every night,” Howard said. “For the most part, we’re finally competing. This season will be a learning experience, but we’ve improved since the year began. We’re getting there.”

The Vikings will be at San Bernardino College on Saturday, and will play their first home game next week, taking on Antelope Valley on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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