WAVERLY – Scioto Valley Conference member Piketon shot 76-percent in Wednesday night’s first-quarter to help build an early double-digit lead that eventually led to a 19-point halftime advantage and a 74-62 tournament victory over Lucasville Valley. In the nightcap, fellow SVC member Westfall looked to be doing the same when it jumped out to a 28-8 lead; however, a second-half surge from Minford had Westfall facing a one-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Westfall would respond by regaining the lead and holding on for a 48-45 win to setup Saturday night’s all-SVC sectional final back at Waverly’s Downtown Gymnasium.
The late game provided a shocking first half when the No. 11 seed Westfall Mustangs outscored the six seed Minford Falcons 18-0 at one point to open up a halftime lead of 33-17. Minford did cut into the lead early in the third quarter trimming the Westfall lead to 33-21, but Westfall responded with an Adam Keller lay-up and a Tyler Cobb triple to stretch the lead back to 17.
This is when Minford’s outstanding scorer Sean Smith was able to get going. The all-district junior, who had been limited to just one-field goal in the game’s first two-and-a-half quarters, connected on a triple late in the third quarter and then two more from beyond the arc in the fourth to help spark a 21-3 run that had Minford leading at 42-41 with 3:33 remaining in the game.
Minford’s lead lasted only 12 seconds as Westfall’s Bryant Gibson scored to regain the lead – a lead Westfall would never relinquish again. Minford did have some late looks to tie or even take the lead, but each time the Westfall defense was up to the challenge including the final play of the game which saw Minford’s Evan Price’s deep three come up just short.
“In the first half, we played about as well as we can play,” Westfall head coach Kent Wolfe said. “In the second half, I give Minford a lot of credit because they started making us make some decisions. I thought we forgot to attack. We became timid and allowed Minford back into the game.
“I give our kids a lot of credit to responding to Minford’s run,” Coach Wolfe continued. “This is a big win for us. I believe this is our first tournament win in four years and I thought nerves played a role in the second half, but we had some kids step up and make some plays and some free throws to get the job done.”
The Mustangs received some solid free throw shooting down the stretch from Brian Boring, Gibson, and Aric Musselman to secure the win. Cobb led Westfall with 13 points and seven rebounds and Gibson added 10. Junior Tyler Kritsch scored nine points and gave Westfall some great minutes throughout the night when Cobb and Boring were both fighting foul trouble.
Coach Kyle Copley’s Minford Falcons were led by Smith’s 16 points while Price ended with 11. Minford did shoot 42-percent from the floor and out rebounded Westfall 28-22, but Minford’s 22 turnovers were simply too much to overcome in the three-point loss.
In the early game, Piketon’s hot shooting was a result of its man-to-man pressure defense which gave the Redstreaks several easy opportunities in transition. Piketon led 24-12 at the end of one and had stretched the lead to 45-26 at halftime. Lucasville Valley did show some signs in the third quarter of getting back into the game, but the Piketon lead never did shrink to single-digits as the Redstreaks cruised to the first-round win.
Piketon was lead by its fine forward duo of Cody Smith and Jordan Brabson. The junior pair combined for 38 points on the evening and senior Coty Breitenbach added 11. The Redstreaks also got nine more from both freshman point guard Evan Legg and senior Chad Daniels to complete the balanced attack.
“I thought our bench played well tonight,” said Piketon head coach Jeff Lisath. “Caleb Southworth, Jordan Miller, and Eddie Robbins all gave us some great minutes tonight. I give Valley credit because they kept coming at us. We did get sloppy at times, but for the most part, I thought our kids did a nice job.”
In the losing effort for Coach Mark Villinger’s Lucasville Valley team, sophomore Zach Utley led four Indians in double-figures with 15 points. Senior Eric Williams scored 13 points while juniors Treg Cunningham and Cameron Arbaugh each added 11 apiece.
The Piketon and Westfall match-up will be the late game Saturday night with a schedule tip-time of 8:00. Another Scioto Valley Conference team in Adena will try to earn its way to the Convo in the first game (5:00 start) against Southern Hills League member Peebles. This will be a split-session meaning fans wanting to attend both games will need two separate tickets.
ANOTHER SVC NOTE FROM WEDNESDAY: In Division II sectional action over at Southeastern, Unioto defeated Waverly 71-60 behind 37 points from senior guard Curtis Baker. Unioto will meet Greenfield McClain in Saturday’s sectional final back at Southeastern High School.