Tribe takes over Jeeps in district


Valley wins 3rd meeting with SW 68-56

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



South Webster senior Trae Zimmerman (2) puts up a shot over Valley’s Colt Buckle (4) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School.

South Webster senior Trae Zimmerman (2) puts up a shot over Valley’s Colt Buckle (4) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School.


Ed Litteral | Daily Times

Valley junior Carter Nickel (10) is defended by South Webster’s Brady Blizzard (13) and Eli Roberts (22) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School.


Courtesy of Patrick Phillips of Glory Days Photography

Valley sophomore Jace Copley (13) drives to the basket against the defense of South Webster’s Will Collins (24) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School.


Courtesy of Patrick Phillips of Glory Days Photography

WELLSTON — The Valley Indians’ boys basketball coaching staff —spearheaded by assistant coach Kyle Copley’s copious and detailed scouting reports —said simply it was their gameplan.

That being — by design — getting the South Webster Jeeps into excessive foul trouble, and thus the Indians turn Saturday’s Division IV district semifinal into a free-throw shooting contest combined with a second-half layup line.

Well, that gameplan picked up —and certainly held firm — for the second-seeded Indians upended the seventh-seeded Jeeps in the two Scioto County and Southern Ohio Conference Division II rivals’ third and final meeting this season.

Buoyed by a 21-2 first-half scoring spree, and decisive advantages in free throws and foul differential, Valley rallied from a 14-6 first-quarter deficit —and ultimately held off the hard-charging but bench-shortened Jeeps 68-56 at Wellston High School.

That’s correct, as the Indians —which split their close-contest regular-season matchups with the Jeeps —emerged victorious at Wellston, with the most meaningful result of those three.

Valley won in Jeep Country 60-54 in December, before South Webster won on The Reservation 52-50 in January.

But on Saturday, those outcomes quickly went out the window — and the new “Derrow Dome” doors —as the Indians opened up by getting into the Jeeps’ bench, both early and often.

With just four minutes and 16 seconds gone by, South Webster was already over the seven-foul for-a-half limit —and the Indians were shooting free throws for the remainder.

That strategy started up the Indians’ efficient transition game —as Valley’s 21-2 outburst over a four-minute and 41-second span reversed an eight-point deficit into an 11-point lead at the second quarter’s 5:21 mark.

That was the short-term goal of Valley’s plan of attack, as —eventually —three Jeeps fouled out, including senior standout Trae Zimmerman with four minutes remaining.

Two minutes later, with the Indians ahead at 61-54 —South Webster’s Will Collins claimed his fifth foul, followed by Zimmerman’s backcourt mate Connor Bender with 56 seconds left.

By then, as George Arnett iced the Indians’ win with two of his perfect 6-of-6 fourth-quarter foul shots, and for his final of his game-high 20 points — it was obvious to one and all that Valley’s admitted gameplan accomplished its task.

With the victory, the now 19-4 Indians —under first-year head coach Craig Tackett — are back in the Division IV district championship bout, and for the second consecutive season.

Tackett talked about, afterwards on Saturday, sowing South Webster with foul difficulty.

Zimmerman was saddled with two fouls only three minutes in, and was tagged with his third just tw0 minutes into the second stanza.

Bender, by the way, was whistled for his third — only 35 seconds into the second.

“Absolutely, and we worked on that this week. We’re known for shooting a lot of outside shots, and teams think we’re going to settle for a lot of jumpers. We worked this week on putting in some stuff off ball screens and getting to the rim. We tried to force them to guard us going downhill, and we could either score or get fouled. That’s exactly what happened,” said Tackett. “That was huge for us.”

Just how huge you ask?

South Webster was whistled for 25 personal fouls to Valley’s dozen, as the Indians attempted 32 free throws —and meshed 24.

The Jeeps, conversely, only attempted eight freebies —and canned five.

From an analysis standpoint, those numbers can’t be ignored, and to some it’s an elephant in the room —or rather a Godzilla in the gym.

SWHS coach Brenton Cole was asked directly about the foul and free-throw disparities.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of district games, but I’ve never seen a game called like that. On a district level for boys basketball, I haven’t seen anything like that,” he said. “It’s really deflating when you have a very good player in Trae Zimmerman, who possibly played eight minutes the whole game, because of picking up what I thought were ticky-tack touch fouls that happen every trip down the floor. You play a certain way all year, and you don’t plan for three guys of your top six to foul out. We tried to adjust, but when you have three guys on the bench and we’re playing our subs against their starters, it definitely makes you mad. They are in the bonus already in the first quarter and shooting free throws. It definitely affected the game.”

To the Indians’ credit, they made most of their free throws —and went right at the basket for buckets.

As part of that game-changing 21-2 run, Copley’s son Jace scored nine points —including for the game’s only tie at 14-14 at first quarter’s end, and for the go-ahead field goal only 15 seconds into the second period.

Copley connected then for his only three-point goal, upping the edge to 21-16 only 1:23 into that salvo.

South Webster went five minutes and eight seconds without a point, as the Indians extended the lead —ranging anywhere from five to 15 points for the final 21 minutes and 21 seconds.

But as offensively on fire as Valley got, Tackett said his Indians indeed got defensive.

While the Jeeps shot 40-percent on 23-of-58, they made just 5-of-18 for 28-percent from three-point territory.

They also committed 15 turnovers, 11 of which Valley made off with steals —as the Indians shot a sizzling 61-percent (19-of-31) from inside the arc, part of 57-percent (21-of-37) overall.

The Purple and Gold also attempted only six three-pointers —with makes by Copley in the second and Arnett early in the third.

“I almost took a timeout early on, because this happened the first time we played them at their place. But our guys got their feet under them, we got in a rhythm, got settled in and we started rebounding and guarding. It may have seemed like we scored 21 points really quick, but being honest with you, that came off our defense. When we decide to guard and rebound, that’s when we can start getting our run-out layups and our transition game going,” said Tackett. “This team is so quick, and we play so well off that. We get so much momentum when we can play fast, but we can’t fast when we’re not getting stops on the defensive end. That way we can relax, take care of the basketball, do our thing and get to the free-throw line.”

Arnett, on five field goals and 9-of-11 free throws, paced the winners with 20 —as Copley followed with 14 points, Bryce Stuart with 13 and Carter Nickel with 11.

That trio all had four field goals apiece, as Stuart with 5-of-8, Copley with 5-of-6 and Nickel with 3-of-4 all cashed in at the charity stripe.

Colt Buckle scored seven points and Levi Stewart had an old-fashioned fourth-quarter three-point play — as some of the Jeeps’ fouls were the by-product of simply trying to extend the game.

Tackett’s talking points also included the Indians’ balance — in scoring, rebounding, defending, and ultimately winning.

“Most teams try to focus on a couple of guys, but when you have such even scoring as we do, it makes us such a hard matchup,” said the coach. “You never know who is going to be the leading scorer. The next thing is that these kids share the ball so well, and if you ask them in the locker-room right now, none of them would probably know who the leading scorer was. They know that we won, and they are excited about it, and that’s what they are worried about.”

Valley held leads of 33-26 at halftime and 52-42 following three frames, as South Webster was no closer than 33-28 only 32 seconds into the third quarter —and at 60-54 following back-to-back Eli Roberts corner triples.

The Indians’ eight final points all came courtesy of double bonus foul shots —as Arnett went 6-of-6 in the quarter, Copley 3-of-4 and Stuart 2-of-4.

An Arnett reverse layup a minute-and-a-half in, and Stewart’s three-point play which landed Zimmerman’s fifth foul, were Valley’s only fourth-quarter field goals.

Four Jeeps —Collins with 16, Roberts with 14, Zimmerman with 12 and Cam Carpenter with 10 —all amounted double figures, as Collins converted seven of South Webster’s 23 total field goals.

“The guys I couldn’t sub out just got tired. They were getting leak-out layups, because we weren’t getting back on transition defense,” said Cole. “It just put us in a bad spot to keep up with their starters, who are all athletic kids who love to run the floor. That’s their game. They finish at the rim well.”

Speaking of finishing, the Jeeps wrap up at 15-8, and graduate three seniors — Zimmerman, Carpenter and Blizzard.

“I’m so proud of my three seniors for the leadership they’ve shown these younger kids. I can’t say enough about those three.” said Cole. “Their work ethic in practice and the things they do with hustling, diving on the floor for loose balls, we need to continue that in the program.”

But, that will be next season for South Webster, as Valley will return to Wellston on Friday night —for its chance at a Division IV district championship.

The Indians will face sixth-seeded Leesburg Fairfield, which knocked off third-seeded Symmes Valley in another district semifinal on Saturday night.

Valley and Fairfield face off in prime time in fact —at 9 p.m.

The Indians defeated the non-league Lions in the season’s second game — but Tackett told his charges to approach Friday’s final much differently.

It’s a gameplan, he said, that has largely worked like Saturday’s did.

“We’re in a clear mindset that they are 0-0 and we’re 0-0 for the day,” he said. “That’s all we can worry about. Because today is what counts.”

* * *

South Webster 14 12 16 14 —56

Valley 14 19 19 16 — 68

SOUTH WEBSTER 56 (15-8)

Connor Bender 0 0-0 0, Trae Zimmerman 5 2-3 12, Dylan Shupert 1 0-1 2, Cam Carpenter 4 0-0 10, Brady Blizzard 1 0-0 2, Zander Rawlins 0 0-0 0, Eli Roberts 5 2-2 14, Will Collins 7 1-2 16; TOTALS 23 5-8 56; Three-point field goals: 5 (Cam Carpenter and Eli Roberts 2 apiece, Will Collins 1)

VALLEY 68 (19-4)

George Arnett 5 9-11 20, Hunter Edwards 0 0-0 0, Colt Buckle 3 1-2 7, Carter Nickel 4 3-4 11, Jace Copley 4 5-6 14, Bryce Stuart 4 5-8 13, Levi Stuart 1 1-1 3; TOTALS 21 24-32 68; Three-point field goals: 2 (George Arnett and Jace Copley 1 apiece)

South Webster senior Trae Zimmerman (2) puts up a shot over Valley’s Colt Buckle (4) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/03/web1_SW-Valley-Zimmerman.jpgSouth Webster senior Trae Zimmerman (2) puts up a shot over Valley’s Colt Buckle (4) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School. Ed Litteral | Daily Times

Valley junior Carter Nickel (10) is defended by South Webster’s Brady Blizzard (13) and Eli Roberts (22) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/03/web1_SW-Valley-Nickel.jpgValley junior Carter Nickel (10) is defended by South Webster’s Brady Blizzard (13) and Eli Roberts (22) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School. Courtesy of Patrick Phillips of Glory Days Photography

Valley sophomore Jace Copley (13) drives to the basket against the defense of South Webster’s Will Collins (24) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/03/web1_SW-Valley-Copley.jpgValley sophomore Jace Copley (13) drives to the basket against the defense of South Webster’s Will Collins (24) during Saturday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game at Wellston High School. Courtesy of Patrick Phillips of Glory Days Photography
Valley wins 3rd meeting with SW 68-56

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved