The Indians’ Zach Utley scored 44 points, 32 in the first half, to go with six rebounds and four steals as Valley completed a season sweep of Minford with 99-84 win Friday night in Minford.
“Zach had just a great, great, great game,” said Valley coach Mark Vilinger. “He was also playing good defense. That’s a thing that didn’t go unnoticed. He was doing a great job. He was just in a groove. Sometimes you’re in those and he was. His teammates understood he was in a groove so they kept getting him the ball.”
The win finishes off the Indians’ season at 14-6 overall and 11-3 in the SOC II. Minford’s season closes at 13-7 overall and 8-6 in the conference.
Valley had three players in double figures. Behind Utley’s breakout night, Treg Cunningham added 25 points and Cam Arbaugh chipped in with 18 points.
Minford was led by Sean Smith with 29 points and Hugh Brisker with 20 points. Evan Price, Cory McKnight and Caleb Cowgill added 10 points each.
Valley fell behind early in the game before Utley took over. Utley sank a three-pointer on three straight possessions to lead Valley to 14-13 lead midway through the first quarter.
Utley was responsible for 19 of Valley’s first 25 points and had 24 of Valley’s 34 first quarter points, including a half-court shot at the buzzer. Valley put together a 20-4 tear over the last 4:46 of the quarter to take a 17-point lead through one quarter.
Valley went 9-for-14 from beyond the arch in the first half with Utley knocking down five, Arbaugh draining three and Josh Winters with one.
Utley finished the first half with 32 points, which was more than the whole Minford squad who only managed 31 points through the first half.
“You just have take open shots and take them as they come and not force anything,” Utley said. “My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball. It’s a big win. It was senior night for them, they were going to come out with high energy so I think this will help (us) on the rise going into the tournament.”
Minford wasn’t going to go without a fight. In the third quarter Smith dumped in 17 of his 29 in the quarter. Brisker added six points in the period.
Minford started off quickly in the fourth quarter and had the lead down to 12 with 5:32 left in the contest. Just 1:18 later Valley had extended the lead to back to 17. Minford once again chipped away, but could not get the lead down to single digits as Valley finished off the Falcons.
Minford opens tournament play against Portsmouth Monday at Waverly’s Downtown Arena. Valley also opens tournament play in Waverly Monday against West Union.
BRET BEVENS can be reached at (740)-353-3101 ext. 242
Valley 34 18 26 21 — 99
Minford 17 14 30 23 — 84
Minford — Price 4 0 10, McKnight 5 0 10, Smith 13 2 29, Gahm 1 0 2, Cowgill 4 1 10, Brisker 8 3 20; Totals 35 6 84.
Valley — Winters 3 0 7, Cunningham 8 9 25, Arbaugh 7 0 18, Utley 15 7 44, Yates 2 0 4; Totals 35 16 99.
3-pointers — Minford 7 (Smith 3, Price 2, Cowgill, Brisker); Valley 12 (Utley 7, Arbaugh 4, Winters)
Record — Minford 13-7 (8-6); Valley 14-6 (11-3)