ATHENS, Oh – The Valley Indians had an opportunity to capture a District Championship Saturday evening at the Convocation Center in Athens, as they battled the Chesapeake Panthers. The Indians and Panthers entered Saturday’s game with the same goal, gaining a victory and moving on to the regionals.
That goal would not come to fruition for the Indians, as they were unable to defeat the Panthers. Chesapeake led the entire length of the game, besting Valley 66-52.
The Indians just couldn’t find a groove to make a run in the game. Every time the Indians would get a big score or cause a turnover, the Panthers found a way to negate any Valley gains by hitting a big three-pointer, or putting together a pair or trio of scores.
While Valley had trouble putting together small runs and building momentum, Chesapeake had little issue. The Panthers put together two separate 5-0 runs in the first quarter, and held an 18-8 lead at the end of the first period.
The remainder of the game was much more competitive, and saw the heart and determination of the Indians. Valley was able to put together a few more scores in the second quarter, all-the-while holding the Panthers to reasonable scoring totals in the period.
After being outscored by 10 points in the first, the Indians finished the second quarter scoring two points less than Chesapeake, and made their way to the locker room for halftime down 12 points to Chesapeake, 32-20.
The Indians had another valiant effort in the third quarter as they cut Chesapeake’s lead to single digits, nine points, on two occasions.
The first came when Blake Howard hit a big three-pointer for the Indians to bring the Indians within nine points of the Panthers, 39-30.
About 1:20 after Howard’s three, Valley found itself back in a double figure deficit, trailing by 11 points. That lead was cut to nine points, for the second time in the period, after Bryan Rolfe came up with a score for Valley that gave the Indians a spark in their step.
Chesapeake would not allow that spark to ignite into a full-fledged fire however, ending the third quarter with a 7-3 run to take a 15-point lead heading into the final quarter, 50-35.
The fourth and final quarter was the most contested quarter in the game. Valley had a huge 15-point deficit to overcome, but one that wasn’t impossible to overcome.
Rolfe and Howard had several high moments in the final period, and showed a ton of emotion, as they continued to fight for their season.
Unfortunately for the Indians and their fans in attendance, they were outscored by the Panthers by a single point in the quarter, and eventually lost the game as time expired, 66-52.
“They outplayed us,” Valley coach Scott Rolfe said. “Defensively they caused more issues than we thought, after playing them the firs time.”
Rolfe said they thought they had made the necessary adjustments in preparing for Saturday’s game, after playing Chesapeake earlier in the season.
Chesapeake defeated Valley during the regular season, 60-57.
“Defensively, they just stymied us, and we struggled to get shots off,” Rolfe said. “On our defensive end, at times we played pretty well, and other times they just got open looks. I don’t know what percentage they shot, but it was pretty high. It’s just tough to overcome that.”
The Panthers shot really well throughout the game, but especially in the second half. Chesapeake’s field goal percentage was 54 percent in the first half and then jumped to 70 percent in the second.
Rolfe said he knew Chesapeake was going to show great patience during the game, taking only shots they had great confidence in taking.
“They were going to keep working it until they got the shots they wanted, and we just wanted to get through those first four or five minutes and then try to speed it up a little bit and turn it into a faster game,” Rolfe said. “Credit to them for being patient and creating shots on their end, and that’s what we struggled with on our end.”
The Indians will be saying goodbye to seven seniors from this year’s team, Bryce Romanello, Kenny Williams, Bryan Rolfe, Blake Howard, Drew Wolford, Aaron Linne, and Blake Brewer.
“Kudos to this group of seniors,” Rolfe said. “It’s hard to say goodbye to them. It’s a group I’ve worked with since they were in the second grade. It’s just a difficult time when you have to say goodbye to a great group of seniors.
“We’ve seen them grow as basketball players but most of all we’ve seen them grow as a person. I think that will lead to success down the road in their lives. That’s why you get into coaching; it’s not all about wins and losses. It’s trying to build people and mold people into having great character.”
Valley – Rolfe 9-2-21, Howard 7-0-16, Romanello 3-1-7, Linne 2-1-6, Wolford 1-0-2
Chesapeake – Rhoades 10-2-25, Stevens 6-1-16, Webb 4-0-8, Stephens 4-0-8, Meadows 1-3-5, Hutchinsion 1-0-2, Browning 1-0-2
Three-point field goals – Valley 4 (Howard 2, Rolfe, Linne) Chesapeake 6 (Stevens 3, Rhoades 3)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.
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