LUCASVILLE — Friday's contest in Lucasville gave the Waverly Tigers plenty of opportunities to do something they have struggled with this season — finish.
The Tigers closed out the first half with six unanswered points, the third quarter with eight unanswered, and then closed out the Valley Indians with a 12-for-15 performance from the charity stripe en route to a 54-46 SOC II victory.
With two losses in conference play, this road win was big for the Tigers (8-3, 4-2).
"If we wanted to stay in the SOC hunt, we needed to have this one," Waverly coach Travis Robertson said. "I'm proud of the kids. We got down and were able to stay right there, keep fighting back and come out on top."
Harrison Martin led Waverly with 21 points, while Jake Kretzer scored 15, though he sat almost the entire third quarter with foul trouble.
The Tigers trailed by seven at two different points in the first half before closing out the second quarter on their 6-0 run.
"I think the last two or two and a half minutes of the second quarter was the telling part of the game," Valley coach Mark Villinger said. "Kretzer had gotten in foul trouble and Waverly had jumped in a zone. We stopped all of our offensive movement, then we never were able to regain it again, even when they went back to a man..."
With Kretzer's third foul early in the second half sending him back to the bench, the Tigers other scorers picked up the slack, going on a 14-0 run spanning five minutes of the late third and early fourth quarters.
Blake Yates hit a 3-pointer with five minutes to play, ending the run and cutting the deficit to eight, but the Indians could never get back within five.
"That run was huge for us," Robertson said. "(Rheadon) Remy did a good job coming off the bench to provide a spark defensively. It was good for him to get in there and scrap on the boards, then get out on the perimeter and cause (Valley's Zach) Utley some trouble trying to get shots off."
Utley bounced back to score nine of his team-high 19 in the fourth quarter. Yates added 14 while BJ Coleman scored 10 for the Indians (7-3, 4-3).
Waverly controlled the clock, going to a four-corner offense in the fourth quarter and shooting 10-for-12 from the charity stripe. What may be more impressive is the fact that the Tigers did not commit a second-half turnover against Valley's pressure defense.
"We work defensively to get some steals or get them to take a quick shot, then get the rebound and go," Villinger said. "But we were not able to do that... We need to get some turnovers."
Villinger had some high praise for for the Tigers, who had defeated Valley in Waverly already this season.
"Compliments to Waverly. I thought they did a great job, especially in the second half," Villinger said. "Their size really wore on us late in the game. The Martin kid inside is very very good. Then you add (Derek) Roback to that and Kretzer. They're not just tall, but they're strong."
That strength helped put an end to Valley's streak of 12-consecutive home wins. According to Villinger, the Indians' last home loss was their home finale in the 2007-08 season against the same Waverly Tigers.
"I know they didn't lose here at all last season and they hadn't lost yet this year at home," Robertson said. "So it's huge for our kids to come into this place and win this one."
Waverly has another tough road test ahead of itself Tuesday at Wheelersburg. Valley hits the road to face Minford on Tuesday.
CHRIS DUNHAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waverly 7 12 16 19— 54
Valley 10 10 10 16— 46
Waverly — Martin 8 5 21, Kretzer 7 0 15, Johnston 3 2 9, Roback 2 3 7, Malone 0 2 2. Totals 20 12 54.
Valley — Utley 6 4 19, yates 5 1 14, Coleman 5 0 10, L. Keller 1 0 2, Dwyer 0 1 1. Totals 17 6 46.
3-Pointers — Waverly 2 (Kretzer, Johnston); Valley 6 (Utley 3, Yates 3)
Records — Waverly 8-3 (4-2), Valley 7-3 (4-3)