|3/19/2017 3:24:00 AM|
BOYS BASKETBALL: Vikings run ends in Elite Eight
Vinton County falls 69-48 to Eastmoor Academy
Photo By Red Thompson, Jr.
Vinton County's Naylan Yates scored a game-high 20 points against Eastmoor Academy on Saturday in the Division II regional final at the Convocation Center in Athens.
ATHENS - Behind one of the great two-year runs by the Vinton County Vikings, this year's team will go down as the best in school history.
After making the regional semifinals three times in the last nine years, the Vikings finally broke through to the Elite Eight for the first time in the history of the program.
However, their magical and historical season came to an end on Saturday, as they fell to Eastmoor Academy 69-48 in the Division II regional final inside the Convocation Center in Athens.
"The kids are hurting right now, but I told them they will look back on this someday with good memories," said Vinton County head coach Matt Combs, who completed his 17th season at the school. "The last one for every team, except for one is always going to be hard and it's hard on us right now.
"But we were just outmatched today unfortunately."
The loss ends Vinton County's 2016-17 campaign a game short of the OHSAA State Final Four, as the Vikings finished with an impressive 24-3 record overall.
Junior Naylan Yates, who scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, paced the Vikings.
Senior Tristan Bartoe did most of his offensive damage at the free throw line, making 5 of 6 from the line and finishing with 12 points, while Jake Speakman added nine for the Vikings.
As a team, Vinton County shot 38.6 percent (17 of 44) from the field and 61.5 percent (8 of 13) from the free throw line. Eastmoor Academy shot much better, making 56.3 percent (27 of 48) of their attempts from the floor, including 68.8 percent (11 of 16) from the foul line.
The Warriors also outrebounded the Vikings 33-19 and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 20 second chance points, as opposed to only four-points for Vinton County.
Eastmoor Academy (22-6) was led by four players in double-figures, as Tim Smith had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Tariq Brown also had eight rebounds to go along with 14 points. Taevion Kinsey finished with 11 points and Zion Parham added 10 for the Warriors.
Vinton County had no real answer to combat Brown, Smith and Stanley Williams on the inside, as the Warriors outscored the Vikings 44-20 in the paint.
In addition, Eastmoor Academy's reserves outscored Vinton County's bench 13-2.
"Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be for us today," Combs said. "They (Eastmoor Academy) are very athletic and long.
"You're talking 6'7" and 6'8" kids with 6'4" guards, which took its toll on us.
"We tried to hang in there, and then they swallowed us up. They would go on a run and we would try to go on a run, but we couldn't get enough stops in a row to compete against them."
The Vikings couldn't overcome a slow start, as the Warriors jumped out to an early 10-4 lead within the first five-and-a-half minutes of the game.
The closest the Vikings got was three points when Yates hit a 3-pointer with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
Then Derick Jones hit a three early in the second to trail 13-10.
From there, the Warriors went on a 14-4 run to take a 27-14 lead with 3:25 left in the half.
The Warriors led 33-20 at the break and outscored Vinton County 36-28 in the second half for the win.
Yates and Bartoe were one of the few bright spots for the Vikings in the first half, as they combined to score five-points each on 3 of 10 shooting. Speakman and Jones had three-points apiece, while Bryce Damron and Eli Griffith each had two.
Yates hit a three early in the third quarter to cut the Warriors' lead to 10, but the Vikings had no answer for Kinsey and Williams, who combined to score nine points during the quarter and spearheaded a 13-7 run to increase Eastmoor Academy's lead to 46-30 with 1:08 left.
The Warriors led by as many as 20 after Kinsey scored on a run out early in the fourth and Vinton County could only get as close as 15 points after Speakman converted a three-point play to make it 61-46 with 2:29 left.
Eastmoor Academy though, scored eight of the final 10 points of the game to close it out.
With the win, the Warriors advance to the State Final Four this week, where they will take on Wauseon at 10:45 a.m. Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Meanwhile, the journey that started many years ago for seven Vinton County seniors ended on Saturday afternoon.
It was the final time Kurtis Vickers, Derick Jones, Tristan Bartoe, Antonio Mendes, Bo McIntire, Caleb Montgomery and Seth Bledsoe would suit up in the maroon and white.
"It's really hard to put into words what these players have meant to our program," Combs said. "It's been a great run. It hurts today, but the kids will look back on this someday with fond memories. Unfortunately, there will be things in their adult life that will hurt worse than this probably."
With a good nucleus returning, Combs will begin looking ahead to the 2017-18 season.
Vinton County 7 13 12 16 - 48
Eastmoor 13 20 15 21 - 69
VINTON COUNTY 48 (24-3)
Jake Speakman 3 2-5 9, Derick Jones 1-0-0 3, Tristan Bartoe 3 5-6 12, Naylan Yates 8 1-2 20, Bryce Damron 1 0-0 2, Shawn McCarty 0 0-0 0, Kurtis Vickers 0 0-0 0, Nevan Yates 0 0-0 0, Noah Waddell 0 0-0 0, Cameron Hamon 0 0-0 0, Antonio Mendes 0 0-0 0, Caleb Montgomery 0 0-0 0, Eli Griffith 1 0-0 2, Seth Bledsoe 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 17 8-13 48; 3-point goals: 6 (Na. Yates 3, Speakman 1, Jones 1, Bartoe 1)
EASTMOOR ACADEMY 69 (22-6)
Zion Parham 3 3-4 10, Taevion Kinsey 4 3-6 11, Tariq Brown 6 1-1 14, Tim Smith 7 1-1 16, Stanley Williams 2 1-2 5, Tripp Hopkins 2 0-0 4, Keeshawn Ramsey 1 0-0 3, Ross Meadows 0 0-0 0, Julian Binford 0 0-0 0, Gicobi Massey 1 0-0 2, Isaiah Hairston 1 2-2 4, Jalen Craven 0 0-0 0, BJ Morant 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 27 11-16 69; 3-point goals: 4 (Parham 1, Brown 1, Smith 1, Ramsey 1)
Field goals: Vinton County 17-44 (.386), Eastmoor 27-48 (.563); 3-point field goals: Vinton County 6-17 (.353), Eastmoor 4-6 (.667); Free throws: Vinton County 8-13 (.615), Eastmoor 11-16 (.688); Rebounds: Vinton County 19 (Bartoe 3, Na. Yates 3, Damron 3, Griffith 3); Eastmoor 33 (Brown 8, Smith 8); Assists: Vinton County 8 (Jones 5), Eastmoor 11 (Parham 3); Turnovers: Vinton County 13, Eastmoor 13; Steals: Vinton County 6 (Bartoe 3), Eastmoor 8 (Brown 2); Blocks: Vinton County 3 (Speakman 1, Jones 1, Griffith 1), Eastmoor 3 (Brown 1, Smith 1, Williams 1); Team fouls: Vinton County 17, Eastmoor 15
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