ATHENS, Ohio — The first-seeded Valley Indians (20-3) defeated the fourth-seeded Alexander Spartans (19-6) by a score of 47-39 Sunday evening at the Convocation Center on the Ohio University Campus. The win sends Valley to the district finals Saturday.
The Indians and Spartans played a hard fought, highly contested game for the duration of the contest. Valley won with pure grit and determination as they seemingly won all the loose balls and willed themselves to the victory. The Spartans played tenacious defense on Bryan Rolfe, limiting him to just two points in the first half. Rolfe would go on to lead the team in assists and steals, while still managing to total 11 points on the night.
The Indians kept the Spartans scoreless until the 2:45 mark in the first quarter. They sagged off shooters and focused on interior defense and rebounding. It worked, until Alexander managed to hit four straight three pointers and pull off a 6-0 run to start the second quarter. Down 15-7, Valley shook off the shellshock and dug in. Blake Howard scored nine of his 13 in the first half and kept the Indians afloat. By the end of the second Valley had battled all the way back to within one, 21-20.
Valley took the lead in the second half, on a Rolfe assist to Drew Wolford, to put them up 24-23. The Indians wouldn’t let up, as they pulled off a 7-0 run that was capped off with a 3-point play by Howard. Alexander only had ten turnovers on the night but they quickly led to fast break points. Valley would finish off the Spartans in a big way as their leading scorer, Bryce Romenello dunked the ball off yet another Rolfe assist.
Valley Head Coach Scott Rolfe was elated with his teams’ performance and the chance to play at the District Finals.
“It’s well deserved,” said Rolfe. “These guys have put in a lot of time effort not only this season, but the seasons building up to this. We played a tough team, too. That was the best man-to-man defense we’ve seen all year, and probably will see throughout most of the tournament.”
The Indians crashed the boards with ferocity, outrebounding the Spartans by 20, 42-22.
“We stressed all week in practice that they are all about offensive rebounding. That’s their game, it’s what they want to do on the floor. We managed to limit them to just five, while we had fifteen. Guys were really stepping up and making plays tonight for us. Bryan didn’t score a lot but he was getting to the lane and getting other guys involved. It was a total team effort. It’s just great to be coming back up here. I love it for these guys, they deserve to come back up and play another game. It’s been a fun week, and hopefully it’ll be another fun week as we prepare for the next one.”
Valley — 7 13 11 16 — 47
Alexander — 9 12 7 11 — 39
Valley — Romenello 14, Howard 13, Rolfe 11, Breech 6, Wolford 2, Linne 1
Alexander- Howard 9, Weaver 9, Richardson 8, M. Chapman 8, C. Chapman
Records — Valley (20-3); Lynchburg Clay (19-6).
Reach Derrick Parker at email@example.com or on twitter @DC__Parker