The South Park Burros boys basketball team has been through peaks and valleys this season, but finds itself with a .500 record in conference play and the meaningful part of the schedule still ahead.

Most recently, the Burros fell in an exciting Feb. 1 contest against the Center Vikings, 56-51. The non-conference contest was tight throughout, and featured a number of lead changes and dramatic momentum swings before the matter was finally settled in favor of the Vikings.

The visiting Vikings, who entered the contest with an 8-5 season record, led by just one point at halftime, 18-17. The Vikings owned the third quarter, however, as the Burrows suddenly struggled to find the bucket.

Despite being outscored 17-5 in the third period, the Burros got back on track with a 23-point outburst that left them just shy of completing what would have been a miraculous comeback as the final buzzer sounded.

Hector Almeida led South Park scorers with 14 points, while teammates Elias Esparza and Michael Kelly added 10 and nine points, respectively. Esparza also led the team in rebounds, with seven.

The loss to the Vikings represented the third game in as many days for the Burros, as they were on the road Jan. 30 against the North Park Wildcats, and again Jan. 31 against the Sargent Farmers.

The Burros got the better of the Farmers in the opening period, managing 11 points while holding the home team to a single two-point bucket. That nine-point advantage came tumbling down in the second period, however as the Farmers exploded for 32 points and limited the Burros to only six for a commanding 34-17 halftime advantage.

Momentum carried over for the Farmers throughout the third period, as the Burros never really got back into the contest in a 63-29 defeat.

The Burros were led by Esparza, who managed 12 points and was the only Burro in double figures.

In the victory over the North Park Wildcats, the Burros clung to a 26-25 halftime lead, then pulled away with a 23-10 effort in the third period and never looked back for a 64-44 victory.

Bobby Wallace was on fire for the Burros at North Park, knocking down 28 points in the win. Leonardo Banuelos added 14 points, joined by Aaron Susic with 10 and Esparza with seven.

(Story compiled from coaches’ reports)

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