LUCASVILLE — For the third time in four seasons, the Valley Indians boys basketball team has earned the opportunity to compete in the district tournament.
Following their 78-46 win over No. 18-seed New Boston on Friday night, the No. 2 seed Indians (18-4) won their second straight Division IV sectional title — and a place in this weekend’s D-IV district semifinals.
The pair of Scioto County schools met in the D-IV district championship a season ago, a game that help propelled the Tigers to a regional title and state tournament appearance.
This meeting nearly a year later, however, was all Valley.
The 32-point decision was the first sectional title for the Indians under first-year head coach Craig Tackett, who said after he thought his team’s play reflected their preparation for the tournament stage.
“Really proud of the way we handled the tournament atmosphere. I thought we came out of the gate with the energy that we needed, and they didn’t let up the entire game,” Tackett said. “Basketball is a long season and you try to peak at the right time, I felt like tonight it looked like we did that in terms of putting together a complete 32 minutes.”
With the program’s third sectional title in four seasons, the Indians also ended New Boston’s four-year run of sectional titles (2018 thru 2021).
“It’s really exciting to have a goal, work toward it and be able to achieve it,” Tackett said, of winning and advancing. “We talk about enjoying the moment all the time, because when you have success, it helps get you more and more hungry for the next goal in mind.”
Valley never trailed the Tigers in Friday’s win.
Junior George Arnett scored seven of his 15 points in helping the Indians build a 17-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Bryce Stuart led all Indians in scoring with a game-high 19 points (17 in the final three quarters).
Stuart and Tucker Merritt both knocked down a pair of three-pointers to help sustain Valley’s lead.
Four different Valley players reached double figures in scoring, including Levi Stewart who finished with 12 points (10 in the second half) and Colt Buckle who scored 11.
“I liked how well we were attacking the rim,” Tackett said, of Valley’s offense. “We knew they were going to throw some different defenses at us. Proud of our guys that no matter what defense they came out in, we were able to find quality shots at the rim with the open guy.”
Valley used its full-court press and traps to unofficially force 21 New Boston turnovers by game’s end while committing 13.
The Indians also unofficially outrebounded the Tigers by a 31-18 margin.
“I’d use the word ‘trust’ when looking at our defense tonight,” Tackett said. “We know that when we’re going to trap, we’ve got to trust that next defender will come up and get the next guy in line. Instead of being hesitant, they go out and do it based on what we’ve been practicing.”
Tigers senior Grady Jackson led New Boston with a team-high 17 points in his final game as a Tiger.
Junior Myles Beasley scored 10 of his 16 points during the second half of Friday’s sectional final.
Valley will face South Webster in the D-IV district semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at Wellston High School.
The Southern Ohio Conference Division II rivals split their meetings during the regular season.
The Indians won 60-54 on the Jeeps’ home court back on Dec. 10, while South Webster earned a 52-50 win in Lucasville more recently on Jan. 21.
“We split during the regular season, it’s interesting because we both won at the other’s home court. I think that having a week to prepare should be good in getting us back in the mindset we had coming into today.”
The winner between the No. 2 Indians and No. 7 Jeeps will face the winner of No. 3 Symmes Valley and No. 6 Leesburg Fairfield in a D-IV district championship on Friday, March 4 — back at Wellston.
New Boston 8 8 14 16 — 46
Valley 17 20 23 18 — 78
New Boston (8-14) 46
Devin Allard 1 3-3 5, Grady Jackson 8 0-0 17, Jayse Tabor 0 0-0 0, Colt Maynard 0 0-1 0, Josh Tabor 1 0-0 2, L. Cooper 0 0-0 0, Luke Henson 0 0-0 0, Myles Beasley 5 4-4 16, Mark Rivers 2 0-0 4, Josiah Bower 0 0-0 0, Brady Voiers 1 0-0 2, Hunter Easter 1 0-1 2; TOTALS: 18 7-9 46; Three-point field goals: 3 (Beasley 2, Jackson 1)
Valley (18-4) 78
George Arnett 7 1-2 15, Hunter Edwards 0 0-0 0, Colt Buckle 5 0-1 11, C. Davis 0 0-0 0, Carter Nickel 1 2-2 4, P. Lute 0 0-0 0, Jace Copley 4 0-0 9, Chris Queen 1 0-0 2, Tucker Merritt 2 0-0 6, Bryce Stuart 8 1-2 19, Levi Stewart 6 0-0 12, Braxton Dillow 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 34 4-7 78; Three-point field goals: 6 (Stuart and Merritt 2 apiece, Copley and Buckle 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved