Defense, Espling’s 20 points lead Viera to win in district opener


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Viera High's Cortez Reid goes up for a shot during Tuesday night's Class 8A, District 6 opener against Hagerty. The Hawks won the game 61-50.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

The Viera High boys basketball team is determined to win the Class 8A, District 6 title this season.

And Tuesday night, that quest got off to a good start for the Hawks.

Tucker Espling scored 20 points and the Hawks played well on the defensive end as Viera came away with a 61-50 victory over visiting Hagerty in its district opener.

“Starting off the way we started tonight, that gives us the confidence that we can do it,” Viera coach Brett Fink said. “After some historically down years, to come out and win our first district game is a big thing for these guys.”

Hagerty, a perennial district contender, had a size advantage over the Hawks Tuesday night. But with a strong effort from players like Espling, Trey Schaneville, Sean Atkins, Cooper Davis, Cortez Reid, Bear Bollinger, Quez Menyfield, Quentin Mullon and Kevin Chandler, the Hawks (8-2) proved to have too much firepower.

“I was relatively pleased with our defense most of the night,” Fink said. “Probably the weakest thing we had tonight was that we just didn’t finish around the basket the way we usually do.

“But our defense gave us the opportunity to win the game. Tuck came up big with a nice shooting night tonight. He also had some nice defensive plays. District games against Hagerty are never going to be pretty, but if you get a win, you’re happy.”

In addition to Espling’s 20 points, the Hawks also got 10 points from Schaneville and 10 points, five assists and six steals from Atkins.

Davis led Viera with seven rebounds while Bollinger had get six boards and four assists.

“Trey runs the show for us,” Fink said. “And Bear Bollinger came off the bench tonight and gave us a nice game. It’s his first year of basketball, so for him to come in and give us big minutes and give us a lift in the post is huge.

“Cooper Davis … we’ve really put a lot of emphasis on him the second half of the season playing up to the ability we think he has. He came out and gave us a nice game, too.

“It was a nice game all around. Everybody (contributed). That’s the nice thing about this group of guys. Any night, any one of them can put up 20 and lead us to the win.”

The road to the district title is just getting started and with teams like Melbourne and Celebration left to play, there are still a few potential speed bumps along the way.

But again, this was a good start.

“If that’s an indication of what the district’s going to be like, then we’re walking way from this pretty happy,” Fink said.