"We wanted to get off to a good start and we did," Yates said. "We have started the last couple games flat at the beginning. We did a good job tonight with the start (that we had)."
Yates found creases and worked his way through the Falcon defense for 15 first-half points. The point guard finished with 24 points and eight rebounds in Valley's first SOC II victory of the season.
"The first quarter we struggled to defend," Minford coach Josh Shoemaker said. "Yates did what he wanted. He is a great player."
The Indians made the most of their first-half possessions shooting 15-for-31 from the field and 6 of 7 from the foul line. At the same time, Minford struggled offensively with turnovers and forced outside shots. The Falcons were down 23-8 after eight minutes.
"We want to come out and really set the tempo and set the pace every time we play," Valley coach Mark Villinger said. "That's what we were able to do tonight... We started making some shots, getting a couple steals and getting some transition baskets. We were really attacking the basket and putting pressure (on them defensively)."
Minford relied on the hot hand of the three point shooting Mark Slone. The junior guard bucketed four from behind the arc in the first half on his way to a game-high 25 points.
"Slone and (Caleb) Cowgill both had great games but you have to attribute that to their teammates," Shoemaker said. "Their teammates were patient (as) we want to get them the ball."
Cowgill slashed his way to the rim for 15 points while Aaron Oesch, Ethan Butcher and Cory McKnight cleaned up under the rim with eight rebounds apiece.
"Even though we lost, to be down 15 points at the end of the first quarter and then to play the last three quarters even, I think that's something to build on," Shoemaker said. "They could have laid down or they could come out to play. Our kids came out to play and that just shows character."
The final three quarters were a dead heat as each team put up 48 points. In the final four minutes Valley hit nine of its 10 free throws to seal a victory.
"When you step up at the end of the game and make free throws, there is really nothing the opponent can do," Villinger said. "That's what we had to do."
Zach Utley swished six of seven foul shots in the final quarter and finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Robbie Dwyer added 13 points and eight rebounds in the team effort.
"Tyler Keller was big for us defensively tonight. We look for him to spearhead our defense, and he did tonight," Villinger said. "We had some guys knock down a couple shots. Johnny Webb and Luke Keller hits some shots for us. And then Robbie Dwyer came up real big inside. When we start getting that total team (effort)... that takes some pressure off of Blake and Zach. The two of them, we expect them to have games like they did."
The Indians were coming off a loss to Waverly in their first SOC II contest. Valley improved to an even 1-1 in league play after defeating Minford 71-56.
"We started off with a loss to Waverly, a good team... We had to come back and get a win to put ourselves into the thick of things," Utley said.
The Indians next play Western, a home game, while Minford travels to Adena. Both games are scheduled for tonight, weather permitting.
ALI KEATON can be reached at email@example.com
Minford 8 15 17 16 — 56
Valley 23 15 13 20 — 71
Minford – McKnight 2 1 5, Butcher 1 0 2, Oesch 2 2 7, Slone 8 4 25, Cowgill 6 2 15, Partlow 0 2 2. Totals 19 11 56.
Valley — Yates 8 7 24, Dwyer 5 3 13, Keller , Utley , Hartley . Totals
3-pointers — Minford 6 (Slone 5, Oesch); Valley 5 (Yates, Utley, Webb, Keller 2)
Records — Minford 2-4 (0-2); Valley 3-1 (1-1)