NELSONVILLE — The Nelsonville-York Buckeyes inserted themselves into the race for the top spot in the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division when they pulled off an upset win at Vinton County earlier in the month.
In front of a big crowd at Ben Wagner Gymnasium, the Vikings were able to gain a measure of revenge, and likely another league championship in the process.
Vinton County played a flawless third quarter, surging ahead of Nelsonville-York for a 74-59 victory on Thursday.
The win allows the Vikings (15-5 overall) to move to 9-1 in the TVC-Ohio. Nelsonville-York (14-4 overall) falls to 7-2 in league play, and will need a monumental upset to get back in the race.
Vinton County will win a third consecutive outright TVC-Ohio title as long as it defeats River Valley and Wellston next week, and both games will be played in McArthur.
The Buckeyes ended the Vikings’ 30-game TVC-Ohio winning streak earlier in the season, but the Vinton County was than ready for the rematch.
“We were dialed in,” Vinton County coach Rod Bentley said. “These kids spent the time and studying and just focusing on the game plan. They were as dialed in as I’ve seen them all season and I’m happy at this point to be where we are.”
The Vikings looked like a team ready for the postseason, outscoring Nelsonville-York 27-6 in the third quarter on their way to 49 second-half points.
“We’re playing obviously for the league which I feel like we have a good chance of winning down here tonight,” Bentley said. “But the second part of the season, these kids are focused for us.”
The Buckeyes were in the mix with the Vikings the entire first half, forcing a 16-16 second-quarter tie and trailing just 25-21 at the break. However, they were held to six points in each the second and third quarters, allowing Vinton County to put the game away by the start of the fourth.
“Unfortunately, we had some defensive breakdowns,” N-Y coach Bobby Cassady said. “Offensively, I thought we were a little timid at times. That third quarter really hurt us.”
The Vikings made just 3 of 20 3-point attempts in the first half, and only 10 of 31 shots overall.
That quickly changed in the third quarter, consecutive Lacie Williams 3-pointers pushing the lead up to 33-23. Morgan Bentley’s 3-pointer gave the Vikings three straight triples, and a 36-23 edge.
The onslaught continued as Vinton County scored 15 straight points to lead 45-23 after another Morgan Bentley trey.
The Vikings made 5 of 8 3-pointers in the third, Bentley making all three of her long-range attempts.
Vinton County eventually led by 27 points — 52-25 — in the third, going on a 29-4 run over a span of 9 minutes and 17 seconds.
“We made some (halftime) adjustments,” Rod Bentley said. “We mixed it up. Went to some more zone, stayed back to our man to man, made some personnel adjustments.”
The Vikings did a little bit of everything in the third quarter, making 10 of 16 shots from the field, as Cameron Zinn also was a terror in the paint with eight points scored.
“When you put five girls out there that can all handle it, all shoot it, it makes it tough to defend,” Cassady said. “I’ll give Vinton County credit, they made some good adjustments from game one to attack our 3-2 zone. That hurt us a little bit. Just learn from this one and move on.”
Zinn led the Vikings in scoring with 19 points, adding nine rebounds and three assists. The sophomore scored 16 points in the second half. Morgan Bentley added 18 points — 15 coming in the second half — with 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Tegan Bartoe ran the offense with 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks.
Williams added 14 points, making four 3-pointers in the win.
“These girls on this team, anybody can be the leading scorer,” Rod Bentley said. “Anybody can be the girl that night. They’re getting closer. They’re getting tighter and these girls are special. Lacie Williams can shoot the ball with anybody. Tegan’s really coming into a good point guard for us, which is what we need. We’re real proud of their efforts.”
The Vikings continued to lead by 27 points in the fourth, 58-31 after a Rylee Ousley free throw with 4:25 left.
A silver lining for the Buckeyes was a 32-point fourth quarter, as they played the game out to the end.
Joscelyn Heller made a trio of 3-pointers in the final quarter, ultimately finishing with 15 points.
Mackenzie Hurd caught fire in the fourth, scoring 17 points and making five 3-pointers. The sophomore finished with an impressive line — 24 points (making 6 of 11 3-pointers), 13 rebounds, six assists and two steals.
“I told them, you guys can shoot it,” Cassady said. “You just have to have the confidence in yourself. We just proved that we can shoot it well. We just needed that more in the third quarter and the first half.”
The Buckeyes weren’t able to come out on top against the powerful Vikings, but were still able to play in front of big crowd at home against a very good opponent. Cassady hopes they can learn from the experience as the Division III tournament looms.
“This was as close to a tournament game as it gets, as far as the atmosphere and everything,” Cassady said. “I thought it was a great opportunity to play a game and improve from. Everything I want to accomplish this year is still on the table. There’s a lot of really good D-III teams, including Wheelersburg, who just beat Vinton County. So there’s a lot of great teams in D-III that we’re going to have to beat to win a sectional title. Sometimes you learn more from a loss. I’m sure this will pay off in the long run.”
}Vinton County 74, Nelsonville-York 59
Vinton County 16 9 27 22 — 74
Nelsonville-York 15 6 6 32 — 59
VINTON COUNTY 74 (15-5, 9-1 TVC-Ohio)
Josie Ousley 1 0-2 2, Tegan Bartoe 4 8-12 16, Morgan Bentley 5 4-6 18, Lacie Williams 5 0-0 14, Cameron Zinn 7 5-9 19, Rylee Ousley 1 3-4 5, Zoey Kiefer 0 0-0 0, Emily Kite 0 0-2 0, Lydia Lenegar 0 0-0 0, Lydia Nichols 0 0-0 0, Abriana McManis 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 23 20-35 74; 3-point field goals: 8 (Bentley, Williams 4 apiece)
NELSONVILLE-YORK 59 (14-4, 7-2 TVC-Ohio)
Ashleigh Cantrell 0 5-7 5, Joscelyn Heller 4 3-4 15, Grace Sinnott 1 2-4 4, Mackenzie Hurd 9 0-0 24, Haley Hurd 4 3-4 11, Alivia Speelman 0 0-0 0, Cayleigh Dupler 0 0-0 0, Emma Fields 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 18 13-19 59; 3-point field goals: 10 (Mackenzie Hurd 6, Heller 4)
TEAM STATISTICS/INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Field goals — Vinton County 23-54 (.426), 3-point field goals 8-31 (.258); Nelsonville-York 18-57 (.316), 3-point field goals 10-25 (.400); Free throws — Vinton County 20-35 (.571), Nelsonville-York 13-19 (.684); Rebounds — Vinton County 40 (Bentley 15), Nelsonville-York 43 (Mackenzie Hurd 13); Assists — Vinton County 15 (Bartoe 4), Nelsonville-York 10 (Mackenzie Hurd 6); Blocks — Vinton County 2, Nelsonville-York 2; Turnovers — Vinton County 12, Nelsonville-York 17; Steals — Vinton County 10 (Bartoe 4), Nelsonville-York 5 (Mackenzie Hurd 2); Team fouls — Vinton County 15, Nelsonville-York 22.