McARTHUR - As public address announcer Bruce Knox was spinning the song Celebration on Thursday night, the Vinton County Lady Vikings were cutting down the nets after winning the outright Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division Championship with a 64-55 win over the Nelsonville-York Lady Buckeyes.
With the win, the Lady Vikings improved to 17-1 overall and 11-0 in the conference with one league game remaining at River Valley Raiders on Thursday, Feb. 8. Nelsonville-York dropped to 13-6 overall and 8-2 in conference play with its only losses coming against Vinton County.
A large delegation of Vikings fans filled the court to celebrate this special moment in history with the team.
While he is thrilled with this accomplishment, Lady Vikings head coach Rodd Bentley was looking back, as well as ahead in his postgame comments.
"I am so blessed to coach these girls and I am so proud of them," said Bentley. "I also think we deserve the number one seed. But we are in a tough sectional and have a lot of work to do."
It was also hard work on the court that brought the title home.
With Nelsonville-York on the comeback trail, two key three-pointers by Erin Jones and Darian Radabaugh sealed the deal and secured the title for the Lady Vikings. Nelsonville-York got as close as six points, 57-51, late in the game but Cassie Bentley sealed the win with her performance at the free throw line.
"They were huge shots and our kids had the green light to shoot," Bentley stated. "Our kids really played together well as a team and they have bought into our system. It has been a special year for us."
Offensively, Cassie Bentley led the Lady Vikings with 26 points and 24 of her teams' 44 rebounds.
Additionally, Morgan Bentley added 20 points and Josie Ousley had 19.
Jessie Addis led Nelsonville-York with 19 points and Haley Herd chipped in with 13.
Vinton County shot 40.7 percent from the field (22 of 54) and was 8 of 27 (29.6 percent) from beyond the arc.
The game started out well for the Lady Vikings, as they jumped out to an early 7-2 start. Josie Ousley hit a field goal to give Vinton County the lead with 5:13 left and the Lady Vikings held a 22-14 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Mary Kate McCullough hit a field goal to bring close the margin within five at 24-19 for Nelsonville-York. Cassie Bentley, however, led the Lady Vikings to a 37-23 halftime lead.
Nelsonville-York went on a 14-7 run in the third quarter to close within 43-37 in the third quarter.
Bentley explained the Lady Vikings would like to leave their conference record in perfect order with a win over River Valley and to round out the season with wins over Marietta and Wheelersburg.
The game with Marietta is Monday and the Athletic Department will be conducting senior night activities. It will be the last home game for Vinton County seniors Cassie Bentley, Erin Jones, and Darian Radabaugh.