LUCASVILLE — Simply put, the young Panthers were too quick, too pesky — and in the Indians’ passing lanes way too much.
As a result, visiting Chesapeake pulled away from a double-digit lead late in the third quarter by doubling its total over the final 10 minutes and 20 seconds — and roared to a 84-45 victory over Valley in a non-league boys basketball tilt on Tuesday night on the Indians’ reservation.
The contest marked the Panthers’ season opener, as Chesapeake — a member of the Ohio Valley Conference — is coming off a Division III district runner-up campaign.
The Indians, also Ohio University Convocation Center and Division III district tournament qualifiers last season, are now 0-3.
The Panthers never trailed against the Indians, scoring the first six points in a matter of a minute and 53 seconds — then broke the game’s only tie at 6-6 by outscoring the Indians 11-3 over the remainder of the opening quarter and never really looked back.
For the final 19-and-a-half minutes, the Panthers’ lead never dipped below double figures — although it came close in the third frame.
Chesapeake extended its advantage to 39-20 with 6:23 on the clock, but Valley’s best run of the night — nine unanswered to be exact — got the Indians’ deficit down to 10 twice (39-29 and 41-31).
With the Panthers leading 41-31, Levi Blankenship bucketed a pair of free throws for Chesapeake — making it 43-31 at exactly the two-minute mark.
Unfortunately for the Indians, Josh Cox canned a three-pointer off an offensive rebound on the next Panther possession — and the almost 40-point rout was on.
Chesapeake finished the final 2:20 of its 21-point third on a 12-5 run, then erupted for a 31-9 outscoring of the Indians in the fourth quarter to completely put the game out of reach.
In all, believe it or not, the Panthers poured on 43 points in the final 10:20 — compared to just 14 over the same span for Valley.
The Purple posted an 84-42, or exactly 42, point bulge with 49 seconds remaining for its largest lead of the night.
The problem for the Indians was Chesapeake’s 2-3 matchup zone, which veteran coach Ryan Davis does a good job of implementing.
It turned the Indians over early and often on Tuesday, as Blankenship, Cox, Travis Grim, Trent Dearth and Austin Jackson jumped the passing lanes — and went for deflections and steals and transition baskets the other way.
“He (Davis) runs that matchup 2-3 zone, and their kids know how to play that defense extremely well. It’s a unique defense that you really only see when you play them,” said second-year Valley coach Eric Horton. “With us rotating in a sophomore and three freshmen and a couple of kids that haven’t played in a couple of years, we struggled at times. We had good runs and bad runs, but when you have bad runs against them and you turn it over a couple of possessions in a row, they do a good job of converting.”
As Chesapeake led 17-9 after the first quarter and 32-18 at halftime, it finally opened up a 39-20 lead less than a minute-and-a-half into the third period, but a rebound putback bucket and two free throws by Bryce Stuart got Valley back to within 15 (39-24) at the 4:36 mark.
Big man Mason Zaler got a pair of stickbacks himself for Valley, and fellow senior Kayden Mollette made a three-pointer — getting the Indians to within 10 (41-31) for a second time in 37 seconds.
But the Indians’ only points from there were baskets by Zaler and Ty Perkins inside of a minute, as a Blankenship old-fashioned three-point play made it 53-36 after three.
“We made a run in the third quarter to cut it down to 10, but then we had a couple of turnovers right back-to-back, and that let them push it back out to 16 where they are comfortable again,” said Horton. “With our youth, we have to play like we did when we made that run at them and try to sustain that over a long period of time. That’s going to come.”
Jackson then made a steal, conversion and three-point play on the opening possession of the final quarter — as Valley’s only points amid that Chesapeake barrage were three baskets by Zaler and finally a Perkins three-pointer.
Zaler, on eight total field goals and 3-of-5 free throws, paced the Indians with 19 points — while Mollette managed 10 on three three-point goals and also a first-quarter foul shot.
Zaler scored seven second-half field goals, as Mollette made the two treys that tied the game at 6-6.
But the Panthers answered for the next six points, including an old-fashioned three-point play by Blankenship, as Valley never got closer than 12-7 in the first quarter and 17-11 at the outset of the second stanza.
Zaler’s first free throw was the final point of the opening period, as his final two foul shots — at the 5:06 mark of the second — made it a single-digit score (24-15) for the final time.
“A team like Chesapeake, any little mistake that you make, they capitalize,” said Horton. “And we made way too many mistakes throughout the whole game. We had stretches in both halves where we had too many turnovers. You can’t do that against a team that good.”
As just Jackson and Josh Cox are the sole seniors for the Panthers, their youth was on full display — as the sophomore Blankenship sank four field goals and 11-of-13 free throws for a game-high 20 points.
Cox chipped in 12 points on five field goals, as Dearth dropped in four field goals for 11 — and Grimm two threes towards 10.
Nathan Cox with nine points, and Dilen Caldwell and Jacob Lemley with seven apiece, each made one three-pointer along with Blankenship.
The Panthers also meshed a hefty 22-of-26 foul shots, including converting all 11 of their attempts in the fourth.
Blankenship, with four freebies in the second and three more in the third, bagged his final nine.
Chesapeake held a 28-16 advantage in total field goals, as Perkins pumped in two triples towards seven points.
Perkins — a six-foot three-inch freshman — plays a key role in the Indians’ improvement, as Horton said he has already seen some progress despite the three early-season setbacks in a matter of five days.
Valley lost its openers over last weekend with losses against Piketon (52-38) and Adena (71-43).
“Our freshmen and sophomores are going to grow up. They have no choice but to grow up,” said the coach. “We’ve progressed now in three games, gotten better in three games regardless of what the scoreboard says. As young as we are, we’re going to have mistakes as they get more adjusted to the game. Hopefully, that happens a lot sooner rather than later. We just have to keep battling to get better each day.”
Soon enough is the Indians’ next game — Friday night to be exact in the Southern Ohio Conference Division II opener at South Webster.
* * *
Chesapeake 17 15 21 31 — 84
Valley 9 9 18 9 — 45
CHESAPEAKE 84 (1-0)
Travis Grim 3 2-2 10, Nathan Cox 4 0-0 9, Levi Blankenship 4 11-13 20, Dilen Caldwell 3 0-0 7, Austin Jackson 2 2-3 6, Trent Dearth 4 3-4 11, Josh Cox 5 2-2 12, Ethan Taylor 1 0-0 2, Jacob Lemley 2 2-2 7; TOTALS 28 22-26 84; Three-point goals: 6 (Travis Grim 2, Nathan Cox, Levi Blankenship and Dilen Caldwell and Jacob Lemley 1 apiece)
VALLEY 45 (0-1)
George Arnett 0 0-0 0, Brecken Williams 1 0-0 2, Ty Perkins 2 1-2 7, Dylan Ellis 0 0-0 0, Carter Nickel 1 0-0 2, Kayden Mollette 3 1-4 10, Jared Gahm 0 0-0 0, Devin Stiltner 0 0-0 0, Bryce Stuart 1 3-4 5, Nick Mowery 0 0-0 0, Mason Zaler 8 3-5 19; TOTALS 16 8-15 45; Three-point goals: 5 (Kayden Mollette 3, Ty Perkins 2)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved