By Del Duduit — For The Daily Times

LUCASVILLE — Jace Copley poured in 20 points, Levi Stewart pounded in 16 and George Arnett added 14 as the Valley Indians claimed the Division III boys high school basketball sectional title by knocking off Westfall 65-44 on Saturday at Valley High School.

The Indians (18-6) jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter with 3-pointers from Arnett and Copley followed by a Stewart layup.

Valley junior Jace Copley (13) led the Indians with a game-high 20 points during their 65-44 win over Westfall in a Division III sectional final

Courtesy of Patrick Phillips, Glory Days Photography

“We got off to a good start, just like we had hoped,” Valley coach Craig Tackett said. “Westfall is a scrappy team, and we knew we had to come out and put some points on the board early.”

Valley’s Carter Nickel, a 6-0 senior, stole the ball from Westfall and dished it to Copley for the bucket and the 12-2 lead. Stewart’s layup toward the end of the first quarter boosted the lead to 14-6.

“We worked all week long on me running the floor,” Stewart said. “I was able to bully my way around underneath and that’s what our plan was all night long.”

Valley senior Levi Stewart (25) goes for a layup over two Westfall defenders during the Indians 65-44 win over the Mustangs in a D-III sectional final.

Courtesy of Patrick Phillips, Glory Days Photography

The 6-9 senior connected on 8 of 13 field goal attempts and pulled down six rebounds in the win.

“He runs the floor so well,” Tackett said about Stewart. “He’s such a good compliment with our guards, with Colt (Buckle), Chase (Copley), George (Arnett) and Carter (Nickel), he plays his role so well.

Valley (No. 5-seed) went on an 8-2 run as Copley hit two 3-pointers and added a layup to close out the first half 32-16.

The Indians did not have a free throw attempt in the first half while Westfall (14-10) only had two foul shots.

The Mustangs opened the third period on a 6-0 run which caught the attention of Tackett to call a time out.

“I just wanted our guys to settle down and regroup,” he said. “We talked at halftime that this team (Westfall) could claw their way back in. They hit a few early in the quarter, and we just had to take a deep breath. I told them we were still in control of this game and continue to execute, and I think our kids responded pretty well.”

After the time out, Buckle hit two free throws, followed by a Stewart bucket off a fast break and a 3-pointer from Arnett to put the lead at 39-22.

“We had a lot of momentum going into halftime, and we knew in a tournament game that they were not going away,” Arnett said. “They came out with a 6-0 run on us, and we just had to break down and do more defensively to get the job done.”

A pull-up jumper from 10 feet by Copley followed by a Stewart layup extended Valley’s lead to 46-30 at the end of the third.

“Westfall is a good team, and that helped us stay focused because we knew we could not let our guard down,” Arnett added. “The 15 to 20-point lead throughout the game helped us to settle down and make big-time shots.”

Copley, a 6-3 junior, was 7 of 12 from the field (.583) while Arnett made good on 5 of 12 field goal attempts.

Buckle, a 6-1 senior, scored 8 points and was 3 of 7 from the field, and he dished out 3 assists and had a team-high 10 rebounds.

“We put a lot of work in these last few days, and I’m really proud of the kids and coaching staff,” Tackett added. “Our kids are all very coachable, and that showed tonight. They executed the entire game.”

No. 5 seed Valley advances to the Division III, Southeast No. 1 district semifinals where they will face No. 4 seed North Adams on Tuesday, February 28 at 8:30 p.m. at the Waverly Downtown Arena.



Westfall: 7 – 9 – 14 – 14 — 44

Valley: 14 – 18 – 14 – 19 — 65

Westfall: Cline: 3-6; Clark 3-2-12; Bugher 2-1-1-8; Barnes 2-1-5; Gifford 3-6; Layton 1-1-3; Browning 2-4;

Team: 19/44 Field Goals, 16/24 2-point; 3/20 3-point, 3/6 FT, 11 assists, 19 rebounds.

Valley (18-6): Arnett: 5-4-14; Edwards 1-2: Buckle 3-2-8: 0-1-3: Nickel 0-2-2; Copley 7-3-20; Stewart 8-0-16;

Team: 25/51 Field Goals, 17/34 2-point, 8/17 3-point, 7/8 FT, 16 assists, 30 rebounds

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