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February 23, 2013

Vikings fall just short in CCIW title game

Nic Hoepfner scored 18 points on seven of eight from the field and four of four from the free throw line and grabbed six rebounds in Augustana's 70-63 loss to North Central in the championship game of the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin tournament on Saturday, February 23 in Bloomington, Illinois.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Less than 24 hours after upsetting the number three ranked team in NCAA Division III, Augustana put forth a great effort against another top ranked team but fell just a bit short. The Vikings dropped a 70-63 decision to North Central in the championship game of the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin tournament, which was played at the Shirk Center in Bloomington, Illinois.

The game was tight during the early going and when Nic Hoepfner (United Township HS, East Moline, Ill.) scored a basket with 9:43 left in the first half, the two teams were deadlocked at 18-18. North Central then scored eight straight points and closed the stanza on a 16-6 run to take a 10 point lead (34-24) into the locker room at intermission.  

Twice in the second half Augustana closed the gap to two points. The first when Hunter Hill (Byron HS, Byron, Ill.) nailed a pair of free throws at 9:08 to make it 46-44 and then at 8:32 when Hoepfner drilled a couple of charity tosses to get it to 48-46. That was as close as veteran head coach Grey Giovanine's crew could get, however, although the Vikings did narrow the gap to three points (62-59) with 2:00 left on a three point basket by Griffin Pils (Libertyville HS, Libertyville, Ill.).  

Hoepfner had a tremendous game off the bench with 18 points on seven of eight from the field and four of four from the free throw line. He also grabbed six rebounds in 26 minutes of action. Pils dropped in 11 points and Hill added 10. Senior Brandon Kunz (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, Ill.), playing in what could have been his last game in a Viking uniform, scored eight points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.  

North Central got 23 points from Derek Raridon while Jack Burchett had 11 and Landon Gamble scored 10.  

Augustana, which was making its fourth appearance in the CCIW title game, is now 19-8 on the season while North Central moves to 24-3.