LUCASVILLE — Norm Persin is indeed back in purple again, and right back racking up more coaching victories.
On Friday night, and with his young and athletic Indians leading wire-to-wire over visiting South Webster, the legendary Persin —in his first season coaching at Valley and 44th overall as a head basketball coach — captured career win 767.
The Indians amounted a third-quarter lead as large as 28 points, and handed the like-young and undersized Jeeps their first defeat in three tries —as Valley vanquished South Webster 57-37 in the Southern Ohio Conference Division II opener on The Reservation.
The Indians are an even 1-1, having dropped a hard-fought season opener by two points at Piketon 52-50 a week ago.
For Persin, who is third on Ohio’s all-time career coaching wins list and is the active leader, Valley marks his fourth school with at least one win.
The others are Oak Hill, where he served two stints including the past 14 seasons and won the 2009 Division IV state championship; Chesapeake, where he coached for 21 years and won 16 Ohio Valley Conference championships including 11 consecutive; and Wilmington.
Perhaps more amazingly, and you can do the math, but he only has 215 losses over these 44 years.
For those into counting, that’s an all-time winning percentage of 78-percent — which is also third in Ohio high school history.
He trails only Richard Kortokrax of Kalida, whom he defeated 48-43 in double overtime in that state championship bout, and Joe Petrocelli of Kettering Alter in all-time wins.
Kortokrax, who also coached at Fort Jennings and Ottoville, and Petrocelli won 890 and 831 games respectively.
Persin said he was glad to get his first victory in his second shade of purple, with Chesapeake being the first.
“It’s great. Didn’t want to lose, because Tuesday night at Piketon was the first time I’ve ever had a season-opening loss. My assistant coaches let me know about it all the way home too,” joked Persin.
The 70-year-old Hall of Fame mentor appears to be enjoying himself already at Valley, and liked what he saw from his Indians against the Jeeps.
He said his club will only go as far as its defense takes it, and it carried the Indians on Friday night.
Valley’s Bryce Stuart, the junior who poured in 19 points to pace all scorers, sank a three-point goal for the first points of the game a minute-and-a-half in —as Will Collins connected on a field goal for the Jeeps a minute later.
That was South Webster’s only first-period points, as the Jeeps didn’t score again until a full eight minutes and nine seconds later on a Brady Blizzard free throw.
Blizzard split his foul shots, as Cam Carpenter’s putback basket was their first field goal in almost nine minutes.
For the half, the Jeeps shot just 20-percent (5-of-25) from the field —and didn’t make any of their 10 three-point tries.
Jeep junior Trae Zimmerman, who went off for 28 points in the season opener at Notre Dame followed by 20 more against Green, was just 1-of-13 in the first half against Valley —and didn’t score until the first half’s final minute.
In the third quarter, he made a two and a three for seven points —but was clearly frustrated and flustered as the Indians defended him well.
“We have length. We had (Ty) Perkins on him (Zimmerman) with his length and we had (Bryce) Stuart on him with his length,” said Persin. “We did a good job with that.”
South Webster fourth-year coach Brenton Cole concurred.
Zimmerman was also charged with four turnovers and four fouls, and shot a final total of 3-of-20.
As a team, the Jeeps shot just 15-of-50 from the field, as only Zimmerman and Blizzard bagged a three-pointer apiece — part of 20 total trey tries.
South Webster was also guilty of 14 turnovers.
“Credit to them (Indians) and their defense. They knew to get on Trae. When he penetrated, it was three guys all collapsing on him. We really struggled shooting in the first half. I’ve mentioned at times our struggles with shooting threes. Obviously it really bit us tonight. Our kids seemed to be forcing shots,” said Cole. “When you are forcing your shot and thinking you need to get it off too quick because somebody is going to block it, you have no touch on it instead of shot faking and doing what we need to do.”
Valley’s George Arnett nailed the first of his three threes with two-and-a-half minutes left for a 23-5 advantage, as his second a minute and 17 seconds later dropped for a 26-9 cushion — in between baskets by Collins and Carpenter.
Zimmerman then scored to make it 26-11, as Stuart scored on a stickback at the buzzer for a 29-11 halftime lead.
The Indians amounted 19 third-period points, upping their runaway rout to a 48-20 tally late in the quarter.
Valley shot 13-of-30 from inside the arc and 7-of-16 outside it, as the Indians converted 10-of-14 free throws and amassed a dozen assists.
“They moved the ball. Reverse the ball, reverse the ball, get what you want, get a corner three, get penetration, get a rip-through baseline. That’s stuff we tell our kids all the time too, but they executed and really did it well,” said Cole.
Persin praised his squad’s efficient ball movement and ability to get out in transition.
That passing display played a key role in knocking down the seven triples.
Stuart scored 19 on eight field goals and 2-of-2 foul shots, while Arnett netted 16 with three threes and 5-of-6 free throws.
Ty Perkins, on four field goals including two treys and a split of first-frame freebies, added 11.
“I thought we passed the heck out of the ball. Our kids hit the open man, we had baseline drive, threw it here, threw it there and hit a wide open three. We threw the ball out of the post a couple times. Our kids are learning to move the ball and doing a good job,” raved Persin. “And getting in transition is part of our game, but when we can’t and we don’t have something, we have to be smart enough to pull it up and get the good look that we can get.”
All three double-digits scorers for Valley had seven rebounds.
Blizzard and Carpenter paced the Jeeps with 10 and eight points respectively, as Carpenter nearly notched a double-double with a game-high 13 rebounds.
Cole said Friday’s outcome could be an indicator of the typical SOC II parity —in this atypical 2020-21 season.
“It’s SOC II play. This is what we are in for all year. We have to get better at things that we do well. We have to realize that our bad shots lead to their layups because teams get out and run. The physicality of our schedule coming up..,” said the coach.
The same goes for the Indians, although the purple-clad Persin picked up another coaching victory.
“We have a lot of interchangeable parts, but we need to be more consistent,” he said. “Every night, it’s two or three guys different (having good games). One of these nights, we have to put everybody together. Once we do that, we’ll be a lot better. That comes with youth too.”
Both Division IV teams have SOC II bouts on Tuesday night —against the two consensus league favorites.
South Webster will host last season’s runner-up Waverly, while Valley ventures to the two-time defending division champion Wheelersburg.
* * *
South Webster 2 9 13 13 — 37
Valley 14 15 19 9 —57
SOUTH WEBSTER 37 (2-1, 0-1 SOC II)
Connor Bender 1 2-3 4, Trae Zimmerman 3 0-0 7, Jaren Lower 0 0-0 0, Cam Carpenter 4 0-1 8, Brady Blizzard 4 1-3 10, Myles Beasly 1 2-2 4, Zander Rawlins 0 0-0 0, Will Collins 2 0-0 4, Lane Bond 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 15 5-9 37; Three-point goals: 2 (Trae Zimmerman and Brady Blizzard 1 apiece)
VALLEY 57 (1-1, 1-0 SOC II)
George Arnett 4 5-6 16, Jace Copley 0 1-2 1, Ty Perkins 4 1-2 11, Carter Nickel 1 0-0 2, Cody Metzler 1 0-0 2, Colt Buckle 2 1-2 6, Blake Wood 0 0-0 0, Tucker Merritt 0 0-0 0, Bryce Stuart 8 2-2 19, Nick Mowery 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 20 10-14 57; Three-point goals: 7 (George Arnett 3, Ty Perkins 2, Colt Buckle and Bryce Stuart 1 apiece)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved