Fans of West Vigo High School’s boys basketball team left the “Green Dome” with plenty to talk about Wednesday night.

They probably spoke highly of how the scrappy Vikings tied the score and forced overtime after they trailed Evansville Central by 10 points with 3:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.

They most likely praised the efforts of sophomore Tyler Wampler, who fired in 25 points, and senior Evan Miller, who chipped in with 18 points, especially when one considers that four potential starters sat out this game for West Vigo because of injuries and other reasons.

But when the final buzzer sounded, the Vikes ended up on the wrong end of a 68-65 decision.

“I told the kids their effort and their guts are going to carry them a long way,” West Vigo coach Tommy Thornton mentioned afterward. “I was very proud… With only two kids with varsity experience on the floor, to be able to pull themselves back into it against a [Class] 4A school with 1,500 kids in it and to do what they did is fantastic.”

“You got West Vigo being down some players and sometimes what happens is your young kids step up,” Evansville Central coach Brent Chitty said of the Vikings. “They stepped up. They never quit.”

This was the second straight season that West Vigo opened with an overtime loss to Evansville Central. A year ago, it was a one-point heartbreaker at Evansville.

This time, the Bears jumped ahead 8-3 and led 16-13 at the end of the first period. Then they used a 6-0 run at the end of the second period to lead 29-21 at halftime.

West Vigo’s Jordan Pearson opened the second half with a steal and layup. But the Vikings still found themselves trailing 48-39 by the end of the third frame, thanks in large part to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the arc by Evansville Central’s Kyle Mangold.

After the visitors built a 54-44 cushion on Josh Chamberlain’s two free throws with 3:08 left, West Vigo’s full-court press changed the complexion of the contest.

Two free throws by Steven Scank and a 3-pointer by Aaron Welch cut the Vikes’ deficit to 54-49. After a free throw by Central’s Kent Crick with 1:36 to go, the home team quickly responded with a pull-up jumper from the lane by Wampler and a field goal by Pearson that Wampler set up with a steal to pull within 55-53.

A 10-second violation against the Bears returned possession to West Vigo and Pearson sank a pair of score-tying free throws with 40 ticks left on the clock.

If any fans blinked their eyes or looked away to talk to a friend after that, they probably missed Pearson’s backcourt steal and layup, which put Thornton’s squad ahead 57-55 with 31 seconds remaining.

Teammate Scott West soon followed with a steal of his own and he drew a foul with 22 seconds to go. He made the first of two free throws, increasing the margin to 58-55.

But Mangold bombed in a closely guarded 3 from the top of the arc with 0:08 showing on the scoreboard to know the score.

At the other end of the floor, Welch missed a 3 at the buzzer, forcing overtime.

Free throws by Miller (two), Pearson (two) and West (one) catapulted the Vikes ahead 63-60 midway through the extra period, but that didn’t last long.

Later in OT, a follow-up bucket by Mangold and a 3-point goal by Ramsey Wright put the Bears on top 67-64.

Each team traded missed free throws, keeping the score the same, then Wampler drew a foul with three seconds left.

He made the first one, then rattled the second one in and out, probably with the hope of a teammate grabbing the rebound. Instead, 6-foot-4 Phillip Schumacher battled for it and got fouled.

Schumacher’s free throw pushed the Central lead to 68-65, then he blocked a 3-point attempt by Wampler at the buzzer to prevent another overtime and secure the victory.

The Bears had four players score in double figures — Mangold with 18 points, Schumacher with 17, Wright with 14 and Crick with 11 before he fouled out. Schumacher also snagged a game-high 13 rebounds, including the most important one of the night, and Crick also contributed a game-high five steals.

Adding double-digit scoring support for the Vikings was Pearson, who tallied 10 points.

Evansville Central 68

Player fg 3pt ft r s pf tp

Schumacher 8-11 0-0 1-4 13 0 4 17

Crick 4-11 2-3 1-2 3 5 5 11

Mangold 8-17 2-2 0-2 9 0 4 18

Wright 4-14 2-8 4-6 4 3 4 14

Chamberlain 1-1 0-0 2-2 4 1 3 4

Barrett 2-2 0-0 0-2 4 1 0 4

Ahlbrand 0-1 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0

Wathen 0-1 0-1 0-2 1 0 2 0

Totals 27-58 6-15 8-20 46* 10 21 68

West Vigo 65

Player fg 3pt ft r s pf tp

Welch 1-5 1-4 0-0 5 1 2 3

Miller 7-12 2-6 2-5 5 0 3 18

Wampler 9-17 2-4 5-10 2 1 4 25

Powers 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Pearson 3-12 0-4 4-4 7 4 3 10

West 1-3 1-3 2-4 1 3 4 5

Scank 0-0 0-0 4-4 1 0 2 4

Totals 21-49 6-21 17-27 28* 9 18 65

Evansville Central 16 13 19 10 10 — 68

West Vigo 13 8 18 19 7 — 65

FG Pct. — EC .466, WV .429. 3-pt FG Pct. — EC .400, WV .286. FT Pct. — EC .400, WV .630. Turnovers — EC 16, WV 13. (*) Includes team rebounds — EC 7, WV 6.

JV — Evansville Central 40 (Eric Kempf 17, Mitchell Ferguson 12), West Vigo 21 (Dalton Mix 10).

Next — West Vigo (0-1) will play at home Nov. 30 against South Vermillion. Evansville Central (1-0) will visit Washington that same night.

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