Vinton County halfway home to TVC-Ohio title


Vinton County 77, Wellston 45

Vinton County, now better by the dozen at 12-1 overall, made it 5-for-5 in the TVC-Ohio on Friday night with a 77-45 wipeout of Wellston.

Paul Boggs was on hand and has the details.

WELLSTON — Win the league, get to the Convo.

Vinton County High School boys basketball coach Matt Combs emphasizes those two team goals every season.

While the second goal will wait until February, the Vikings are halfway home to another Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division championship.

Vinton County, now better by the dozen at 12-1 overall, made it 5-for-5 in the TVC-Ohio on Friday night with a 77-45 wipeout of Wellston.

“We talk about a 10-game checklist as far as the league goes,” said Combs. “In a league, there’s no game bigger than another. They all count as one win or one loss.”

The Vikings have now won the last nine meetings with the rival Rockets, dating back to a season sweep in the 2003-04 season.

They have also captured 37 of their last 38 regular-season contests, and 40 of their last 43 overall.

Wellston, meanwhile, has dropped five straight games to fall to 3-10 overall and 1-4 in the division. They have not won since a 44-43 win at Trimble on Dec. 18.

And, Friday night’s affair was never in doubt.

The Vikings established themselves early and often, storming out to a 25-5 lead after the first period.

At two points in the first half, Vinton County led 31-5 and 35-6, with the 29-point advantage coming at the four-minute mark of the second stanza.

They doubled up the Rockets 20-10 in the second quarter to stake a 45-15 cushion at halftime.

They then won the third quarter 19-13, increasing the advantage to 64-28 at the end of three periods.

With Dustin Guthrie’s only points of the fourth period, the Vikings held their largest lead of the night at 66-28.

Both teams substituted frequently in the fourth, en route to the 32-point final.

Afterward, Combs talked about the fast start and focus of his team on Friday. While the Vinton County student section was hungry for half-priced popcorn following a Wellston three-pointer, the Viking squad itself was hungry for another victory.

“I was proud of our kids for being focused and coming out and getting on them early,” said Combs. “Wellston is a young team trying to find themselves, and I thought our experience and our focus tonight was the difference.”

The contest was never close following a 4-2 score with 6:36 remaining in the opening period.

After a putback basket by Wellston’s Andy Derrow, the Vikings scored 15 straight points and never looked back.

A three-point basket by the Rockets’ Slone Cales ended a four-and-a-half minute scoring drought for Wellston.

The next Rocket points came on a free throw with 3:25 gone by in the second.

The Vikings, as they often do, showcased their inside-outside combination with seniors Guthrie and Andrew Eberts.

Guthrie, who scored six points apiece in the first three periods, poured in a game-high 20 on nine field goals and 2-of-3 free throws. Guthrie only missed two shots from the field, as the Rockets simply had no answer for him on the inside.

He also grabbed 12 rebounds for an impressive double-double, including 10 in the first half. He nearly notched a triple-double by dishing out eight of the team’s 20 assists.

On the perimeter, Eberts returned from a two-game absence in fine form. He missed the victories over Meigs and Waverly with a foot injury, but came back on Friday to fire up 18 total points.

Hit hit four of the team’s five threes, including two in the first quarter, part of 10 points for the entire period. Fellow senior Ryan Stewart also nailed a triple in the canto.

“It was good to see Andrew back and have a good night,” said Combs of Eberts. “I really didn’t know how he would react tonight, but it looks like he is moving around a lot better. Obviously, we are a better team with him.”

Only two Vikings did not score, as junior post Jake Prater also posted double figures with 10 points. Prater pulled down a half-dozen rebounds.

Stewart, Michael Dixon and Andy Grillo all finished with five points apiece, as Grillo made off with five of the team’s 15 steals.

Dylan Guthrie, Ben Batey and Ethan Allen added four points apiece on two field goals.

For the game, the Vikings shot a sizzling 52-percent (32-of-62), including an even 54-percent (27-of-50) from inside the arc.

“A lot of guys contributed,” said Combs. “It was good to see us get the ball inside to the post, and defensively, we caused some problems for them.”

The Rockets, conversely, couldn’t connect from the floor. They shot just 33-percent for the game (17-of-51), including just 6-of-27 from three-point land.

Sophomore Jeff Matteson made three threes, and scored 10 of his team-high 15 points in the final period. Senior Aaron Jackson, a transfer from Vinton County, canned two treys for six points.

Sophomores Cody Wilkett and Ryan Darnell also scored six, as Cales collected seven before fouling out. Derrow dropped in four and Tyler King collected a free throw.

The Vikings also forced the Rockets into 24 turnovers. Vinton County won the field goal battle 32-17 and the rebounding war 41-26. Derrow and Matteson managed six boards apiece for the Blue and Gold.

The Rockets return home, and return to TVC-Ohio Division action, on Tuesday night when they take on Alexander.

Vinton County is off until Friday, when it entertains Nelsonville-York. After that, on the following Friday, the Vikings play host to Belpre.

Both bouts are two more possible steps towards the Vikings’ fourth TVC-Ohio championship in five years.

“That’s the goal (TVC-Ohio championship) and these kids really want it,” said Combs.

As for now, they are halfway home to another league crown. And, speaking of home, they have four of their five remaining league matches in McArthur.

“We’ve played four league games on the road the first half (of the league rotation),” said Combs. “We only have one road league game left. It will be nice to get back to the friendly confines.”

The Vikings completed a sweep of the Rockets with a 49-23 triumph in the reserve match. The VCHS junior varsity is now 13-0 on the year.

Levi Lawhead led the winners with 11 points as Matt Delacruz paced Wellston with 10.

* * *

Vinton Co. 25 20 19 13 — 77

Wellston 5 10 13 17 — 45

VINTON COUNTY 77 (12-1, 5-0 TVC)

Andy Grillo 2 1-2 5, Ryan Stewart 2 0-0 5, Taylor Reed 0 0-0 0, Andrew Eberts 7 0-0 18, Ethan Allen 2 0-0 4, Michael Dixon 2 1-2 5, Ben Batey 2 0-2 4, Dustin Guthrie 9 2-3 20, Brandon Clark 0 2-2 2, Steve Thompson 0 0-1 0, Dylan Guthrie 2 0-0 4, Jake Prater 4 2-6 10; TOTALS 32 8-18 77; Three-point field goals: 5 (Andrew Eberts 4, Ryan Stewart 1)

WELLSTON 45 (3-10, 1-4 TVC)

Jacob Arthur 0 0-0 0, Jeff Lin 0 0-1 0, Jeff Matteson 5 2-2 15, Matt Delacruz 0 0-0 0, Aaron Jackson 2 0-0 6, Tyler King 0 1-2 1, Brody Speraw 0 0-0 0, Cody Wilkett 2 2-6 6, Andy Derrow 2 0-0 4, Justin Lackey 0 0-0 0, Seth Weikert 0 0-0 0, Slone Cales 3 0-0 7, Ryan Darnell 3 0-0 6; TOTALS 17 5-11 45; Three-point field goals: 6 (Jeff Matteson 3, Aaron Jackson 2, Slone Cales 1)


Field goals —Vinton County 32-62 (.516), 2-point field goals 27-50 (.540), 3-point field goals 5-12 (.417); Wellston 17-51 (.333), 2-point field goals 11-24 (.458), 3-point field goals 6-27 (.222); Free throws — Vinton County 8-18 (.444), Wellston 5-11 (.545); Rebounds — Vinton County 41 (Dustin Guthrie 12, Jake Prater 6), Wellston 26 (Jeff Matteson and Andy Derrow 6 apiece); Steals — Vinton County 15 (Andy Grillo 5), Wellston 9; Assists — Vinton County 20 (Dustin Guthrie 8), Wellston 9; Blocks — Vinton County 0, Wellston 4; Turnovers — Vinton County 15, Wellston 24; Team fouls — Vinton County 15, Wellston 17; JV SCORE — Vinton County 49, Wellston 23

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