LUCASVILLE — The legendary Norm Persin, once again, has a young boys basketball team playing well in March —and on a roll into a district championship tilt.
That’s because his Valley Indians, as the 70-year-old Persin is in his 44th season as a head coach but in his first leading the charges on “The Reservation”, simply squashed the visiting Western Indians on Wednesday night —winning by a commanding count of 79-35 in a Division IV semifinal affair.
With the victory, fourth-seeded Valley is now 12-9 —and more importantly in the district championship game.
Persin, with now 778 career coaching wins, has coached in plenty of those —including in his first season in his second stint at Oak Hill, which came clear back in 2006-07.
He guided the Oaks to the 2009 Division IV state championship —and is now leading the underclassmen-heavy Indians along another Division IV tournament trail.
The next stop is on Saturday night —when Valley squares off against the top-seeded and highly-touted and 21-2 New Boston Tigers.
New Boston turned back South Webster, 62-44, in another district semifinal on Wednesday night.
For Valley, 12th-seeded Western was able to challenge for a quarter, but the hosts truly broke the game open early in the second canto with nine unanswered points to lead 32-15.
That second stanza began with five Western turnovers and three missed shots in the opening three-plus minutes, and closed with a 14-5 Valley run to put the home Indians ahead 46-22 at halftime.
With just over four minutes left in the period, Western finally got back on the board —as Kolten Miller made a block on a Valley breakaway layup attempt, and Gavin Myers made the basket on the other end.
But Western would only score seven second-period points, nine third-frame points, and only four fourth-quarter counters.
Valley, conversely, scored 23 points in each of the opening three salvos — followed by 10 more markers in the fourth.
In the second half, Valley’s leads grew to 51-22, 58-24, 60-27, 62-30 and finally to 69-31 —invoking the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule for tournament tilts late in the third.
Jace Copley — a freshman — and Ty Perkins, a sophomore, tallied 43 points between them for Valley, outscoring Western by themselves combined.
As Valley converted for nine made three-point goals, Copley connected on five of them —as he also made two twos and 3-of-4 free throws for a game-high 22.
Perkins popped seven total field goals including a second-stanza three-ball, and meshed 6-of-9 charity tosses for a runner-up game-high of 21.
George Arnett, on seven deuces including an old-fashioned first-quarter three-point play plus a three-pointer of his own, added in 18 points —while Bryce Stuart scored 10 on two twos and two threes.
Colt Buckle in the second, Carter Nickel in the third and Cody Metzler in the last all had one basket —as Tucker Merritt made a pair of fourth-quarter foul shots.
Western was paced by Colten Montgomery — who had 13 points on three twos, two of the team’s four threes, and a third-quarter old-fashioned three-point play.
The visiting Indians actually led 3-0 and 5-2 —on a three by Reed Brewster and a two from Montgomery.
But Arnett answered with the game-tying triple at 5-5, jump-starting a two-minute stretch in which Valley scored 13 consecutive.
Western was able to twice get within five at 15-10 and 20-15, but Copley canned a long-distance trifecta over an Indian defender at the first-quarter buzzer —and Western would never get closer.
Valley shot 20-of-28 from inside the arc and 9-of-16 from outside of it —and went 12-of-16 from the line.
Western was 12-of-40 for the entire game and committed 16 turnovers —all of those miscues coming within the opening three quarters.
Now, with Waterford and Western invading Valley’s “Reservation” and getting run out of the gym, the young Indians aim for a district championship —and the red-clad and talented Tigers.
Tipoff time for Saturday’s Division IV district final is set for 7 p.m. —and will take place in the heart of Roy Rogers Country at Northwest High School.
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