McARTHUR — While the Jackson Ironmen continued on their murderous stretch of schedule, the Vinton County Vikings continued on after suffering something rare.
That being a loss.
One night after seeing their school-record 33-game regular-season win streak snapped, the Vikings vanquished visiting Jackson 80-46 on Saturday night in a non-league boys basketball tilt.
With the win, Vinton County climbs to 9-1 overall, and successfully bounces back after losing to undefeated Huntington 61-57 on Friday.
The Vikings had won 33 straight in the regular season, dating back to the 2005-06 campaign, which included an undefeated season last year.
Vinton County has now captured 37 of its last 40 games.
The Ironmen, meanwhile, in the midst of a killer schedule, slipped to 2-7 overall.
Jackson has lost to the likes of 4-5 Portsmouth, 4-3 Ironton, 6-1 Chillicothe, 6-3 Kings Mills and now 9-1 Vinton County.
Only the Ironton contest was even close to a single-digit final deficit.
Undefeated Zanesville at 8-0 is next on the docket for Jackson.
“We’ve played a very difficult stretch,” said Jackson coach Bruce Hurst. “If you add up the losses that these teams have, there are going to be several teams in the state that have that many losses just by themselves.”
The Vikings, however, were playing their first game following a loss since February 2006. They succeeded.
After falling behind 3-0, VCHS never trailed again, and was never challenged once the lead hit double digits with 2:23 to play in the first period.
The Vikings upped the advantage to 33-13 at the outset of the second quarter, and Jackson never came closer than 15 points (38-23) the rest of the way.
Vinton County’s largest lead swelled to 36 (69-33), as 34 wound up being the final margin of victory.
The Vikings outscored the Ironmen 28-11 in the first eight minutes, and took the final three cantos 52-35.
Vinton County coach Matt Combs was proud of his team’s response after their first regular-season loss in 33 games.
“Obviously, our kids don’t like to lose. We want it to upset us, but at the same time, you can’t let it devastate you either,” said Combs. “We talked about coping with it. We lost. We lost to a really good team in Huntington who just outplayed us for enough of that game to beat us. Sometimes, you can learn from a loss just the same as you do a lot of wins. It was going to say a lot about us, one way or the other, how we handled that adversity. I thought our kids showed what they are made of.”
That adversity actually carried over into the first two minutes of Saturday’s showdown with Jackson.
In the first 1:56, the Vikings trailed 3-0 after Andy Buescher banged home a three-pointer from the top of the key. Vinton County committed two turnovers and had a missed shot in that stretch.
But a free throw by Dustin Guthrie, and two more freebies by Andy Grillo 10 seconds later, tied the score at 3-3.
It was all Vikings after that.
Following an Ironmen turnover, Andrew Eberts hit a three from the left corner, followed by an old-fashioned three-point play by Guthrie at the five-minute mark.
With the score at 12-8, Guthrie scored inside, and Jake Prater put back a missed free throw just two seconds later.
Guthrie’s second three-point play, at the 2:23 mark, made it 19-8 and the rout was on.
The Vikings outscored the Ironmen 11-3 for the rest of the stanza, then won the final three quarters 21-15, 12-5 and 19-15.
“We came out and really got on them,” said Combs.
The senior standout Guthrie, who poured in a game-high 20 points on eight field goals and 4-of-6 free throws, scored 16 in the first half.
Prater posted double figures with 10 points, including nine in the first two periods. Prater put in four field goals and 2-of-3 free throws.
All but one Viking which played scored. Eberts — on two first-quarter threes — and Ethan Allen — on two field goals and 4-of-6 free throws — added eight points apiece.
Dylan Guthrie, on three field goals, and Grillo, on two field goals and 2-of-2 foul shots, each scored seven. Grillo garnered one three-pointer as Ryan Stewart sank the team’s other two treys.
Like Stewart, fellow senior Ben Batey also scored six points.
“We got a lot of guys in the game, especially early, and they all contributed well,” said Combs. “I really thought our effort was great and that’s the thing I was looking for after that loss. Our kids were really fired up and ready to play.”
The Vikings amassed 31 total field goals compared to Jackson’s 12, as the Ironmen ended up with six deuces and six treys.
The Vikings shot a sizzling 54-percent (31-of-57), including 26-of-47 from inside the arc.
They stymied the Ironmen to just 24-percent shooting (12-of-50), and held a decisive 45-22 rebounding advantage.
Guthrie grabbed 12 rebounds for an impressive double-double, while Prater pulled down eight and Grillo six.
Guthrie and Grillo dished out five assists apiece, part of a team 21. Guthrie also recorded four steals and three blocked shots.
The Ironmen were paced by 16 points off the bench from junior guard Tyler Boggs. Boggs bagged five field goals, including two triples, and 4-of-4 free throws.
Morgan Dobbins, who drained three trifectas, also notched double figures with 13. Buescher bucketed seven points as Kyle Newsom netted four.
Dylan Newsom and Merlin Miller, with three free throws apiece, rounded out the Red and White scoring. Newsom collared six rebounds and came away with five steals while Miller made three blocks.
“We’re going to get better,” said Hurst. “We have fairly decent talent here, it’s just who we are playing against. Your schedule can dictate a lot about what happens to your record. We’re going through some struggles right now and the guys are a little bit frustrated, but we’re going to see improvement.”
Combs was quite complementary of the rebuilding Ironmen program under Hurst.
“They do have good kids and Coach Hurst and his staff are going to do a nice job there,” said the Viking mentor. “They’ve had a murderer’s row schedule here the last two weeks, but I think things will get better. But tip your hat to them, I thought those kids competed hard tonight.”
While the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Ironmen, the Vikings venture to Meigs on Friday night for a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division bout.
Vinton County, the defending division champion, leads the league at 3-0.
The Vikings completed the sweep of the Ironmen with a 66-37 victory in the reserve match. Dylan Guthrie poured in 23 points to pace the winners, while Taylor Stepp led the Ironmen with 12.
The junior varsity Vikings of veteran coach John Royster remain undefeated at 10-0.
* * *
Jackson 11 15 5 15 — 46
Vinton Co. 28 21 12 19 — 80
JACKSON 46 (2-7)
Tyler Boggs 5 4-4 16, Morgan Dobbins 4 2-3 13, Andy Buescher 2 2-3 7, Josh Brown 0 0-2 0, Kyle Newsom 1 2-4 4, Dylan Newsom 0 3-6 3, Evan Stacey 0 0-0 0, Merlin Miller 0 3-4 3; TOTALS 12 16-26 46; Three-point field goals: 6 (Morgan Dobbins 3, Tyler Boggs 2, Andy Buescher 1)
VINTON COUNTY 80 (9-1)
Andy Grillo 2 2-2 7, Ryan Stewart 2 0-0 6, Taylor Reed 2 0-0 4, Andrew Eberts 3 0-0 8, Ethan Allen 2 4-6 8, Michael Dixon 1 0-2 2, Ben Batey 3 0-0 6, Dustin Guthrie 8 4-6 20, Brandon Clark 0 0-0 0, Steven Thompson 1 0-0 2, Dylan Guthrie 3 1-3 7, Jake Prater 4 2-4 10; TOTALS 31 13-23 80; Three-point field goals: 5 (Ryan Stewart and Andrew Eberts 2 apiece, Andy Grillo 1)
TEAM STATISTICS/INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Field goals — Jackson 12-50 (.240), 2-point field goals 6-28 (.214), 3-point field goals 6-22 (.272); Vinton County 31-57 (.544), 2-point field goals 26-47 (.553), 3-point field goals 5-10 (.500); Free throws — Jackson 16-26 (.615), Vinton County 13-23 (.565); Rebounds — Jackson 22 (Dylan Newsom 6), Vinton County 45 (Dustin Guthrie 12, Jake Prater 8, Andy Grillo 6); Steals — Jackson 11 (Dylan Newsom 5), Vinton County 12 (Dustin Guthrie 4); Assists — Jackson 6 (Morgan Dobbins 2), Vinton County 21 (Andy Grillo and Dustin Guthrie 5 apiece); Blocks — Jackson 3 (Merlin Miller 3), Vinton County 4 (Dustin Guthrie 3); Turnovers — Jackson 18, Vinton County 23; Team fouls — Jackson 20, Vinton County 23; JV SCORE — Vinton County 66, Jackson 37