LUCASVILLE — A pair of unbeaten teams with their eyes set on regular season and postseason championships met in front of a packed crowd in Lucasville on Tuesday night in SOC II play.
The host Valley Indians handed visiting Minford a 73-64 loss in league play, in part due to a dominant second quarter — and never relinquished their lead after halftime.
After trailing 20-16 through the first eight minutes of the game, the Indians’ defensive pressure forced the Falcons into turnovers and points on the offensive end.
Valley (4-0, 2-0 SOC II) won the second period 23-6 to take a 13-point lead (39-26) into the halftime locker room.
First-year Indians coach Craig Tackett praised his players’ effort and energy on the defensive end during the stretch where they built their lead.
“Every single day in practice we talk about energy and effort. We did a really good job in the second quarter of getting a good trap in the defense and we rotated well to get good passes after forcing turnovers,” Tackett said. “That pressure frustrated them a little bit and we were able to turn it into opportunities on offense.”
Valley junior George Arnett scored the Indians’ first 11 points and tallied a game-high 33 points by game’s end.
Arnett managed 11 field goals (five three-pointers) and went 6-of-8 from the foul line.
“It seems like a different kid steps up every night. It was one of those games for George where we thought, ‘How quick can we get him the ball?’,” Tackett said. “The team recognized that and helped run our offense at times through him.”
Indians senior Bryce Stuart scored seven points in each half for 14 total points, sophomore Jace Copley had 12, and Colt Buckle scored 10 as Valley’s double-digit scorers.
Carter Nickel had four points during the third quarter, when Valley managed to keep its 13-point lead intact.
Minford senior Trenton Zimmerman scored a team-high 19 points for the Falcons, 17 of which came in the second half.
Joe Hannah had 13, Adam Crank scored 12, Myles Montgomery 10, Ethan Connally eight, and Devin Parker two in the contest to round out Minford’s scoring.
The Falcons (2-1, 1-1 SOC II) cut Valley’s lead to five points on two occasions in the second half, but the Indians held on to win — thanks to timely buckets in a big-time matchup in league play.
“Both teams playing at a really high level. The Valley-Minford rivalry has always been there, but the two teams coming in undefeated even though it’s early in the year just added to that,” Tackett said. “Both teams have a lot of potential so it made for a really good game.”
Minford hosts Waverly on Friday (Dec. 10), looking for a bounce-back win in SOC II play.
Valley travels to unbeaten South Webster (3-0, 1-0 SOC II), which handed Wheelersburg — the defending SOC II champions, a 10-point loss (66-56) — in the Pirates’ season opener.
“With the league this year, you can celebrate for a little bit, then you turn around and you’ve got another tough game. Glad to get this one and now we’ve got two days to focus on Webster,” Tackett said. “They’re a really good team who beat Wheelersburg tonight and is playing well.”
Minford 20 6 21 17 — 64
Valley 16 23 21 13 — 73
MINFORD 64 (2-1, 1-1 SOC II)
Trenton Zimmerman 8 1-1 19, Joe Hannah 5 2-4 13, Adam Crank 4 0-0 12, Myles Montgomery 4 0-0 10, Devin Parker 1 0-0 2, Jeffery Pica 0 0-0 0, Luke Oakes 0 0-0 0, Ethan Connally 3 1-2 8; TOTAL: 25 4-7 64; Three-point field goals: 10 (Adam Crank 4, Trenton Zimmerman and Myles Montgomery 2 apiece, Joe Hannah and Ethan Connally 1 apiece)
VALLEY 73 (4-0, 2-0 SOC II)
George Arnett 11 6-8 33, Colt Buckle 5 0-1 10, Carter Nickel 2 0-1 4, Jace Copley 4 2-2 12, Tucker Merritt 0 0-0 0, Bryce Stuart 6 2-4 14; TOTAL: 28 10-16 73; Three-point field goals: 7 (George Arnett 5, Jace Copley 2)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved