Boys basketball: Justin Osburn keys Valparaiso’s win over Crown Point
By JOHN O’MALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent January 25, 2013 11:20PM
Updated: February 27, 2013 6:18AM
CROWN POINT — Justin Osburn is to Valparaiso’s basketball team what electrical power is to NIPSCO.
The 5-foot-10 junior guard brings a real surge of energy to the Vikings (12-2, 8-2) whenever he comes off the bench.
In the Vikings’ narrow 51-48 Duneland Athletic Conference victory over Crown Point Friday night, Osburn created plenty of headaches for the Bulldogs (4-10, 2-8) as he terrorized them with a game-high 19 points.
“When I came off the bench, coach (Joe Otis) told me to be aggressive,’’ Osburn said. “Whenever I have the opportunity to come in and help the team, I take advantage of it. My teammates set me up really well tonight. They drive and kick and then my guy is forced to help and it leaves me open.’’
Osburn hit six of his 10 shots, including a pair of 3-point baskets and also had three steals.
“I just try to do what I can to help us win,’’ said Osburn, who was primarily a junior varsity player a year ago.
Another key performer for the Vikings was Brody Wilson who did a good job guarding Crown Point’s Tom Bardeson (13 points) who scored only five points in the first three periods and had seven turnovers.
The Bulldogs were forced to play without Braxton Rice, who rolled an ankle in the pregame shoot-around before the junior varsity game.
“It was a total freak injury,’’ Crown Point coach Clint Swan said. “It changed our gameplan drastically. I felt bad for him that he couldn’t play.
We’re not sure how long he’ll be out.’’
Rice, who had 16 points in a game at Valpo last year, would undoubtedly had made a difference.
Even without Rice, center Nick Jeffirs (14 points, 9 rebounds) and
Bret Barclay (12 points, 7 rebounds) stepped up for the Bulldogs and nearly helped CP pull off an upset.
“The guys played hard and we played well at the defensive end for three quarters,’’ Swan said. “Valpo made some key plays and key shots there when they needed to.’’
The Vikings trailed 33-27 after a basket by Bardeson to start the final period, but saw Valpo go on a 23-10 run to open up a 50-43 lead with 25.7 seconds left.
“We’ve played really well in games with Merrillville and Lake Central, against E.C. Central last week and these guys,’’ Swan said. “We just have to find a way to turn the corner.’’
In the difficult loss to the Vikings, though, Osburn made the difference.
“He’s very opportunistic and he’s tough to guard,’’ Swan said. “When you leave him open (to shoot), he’s going to knock them down.’’