Great battle of conference champions ends with VC edging Redstreaks on three-point play
Saturday night at OU-C was a battle of conference champions. Both Piketon and Vinton County had just clinched outright league titles on Friday night, but that did little to diminish the intensity of this non- conference game. In what proved to be one of the more physical games I have seen this season, Vinton County blew a seven point lead, but then scored the final seven points of the game to turn a four-point deficit into a 51-48 win.
Vinton County held a 29-22 halftime advantage. In the second half, Piketon started to attack really well. I thought Evan Leggâ€™s ball handling started to impact the game. His ability to breakdown the defense was causing the fouls to add up. Piketon entered the bonus at the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter. The Redstreaks would eventually open up a 48-44 advantage on the strength of a big three-pointer from Craigen Moore. Down the stretch, I thought Piketon lost some of their aggressiveness. Vinton County started running an extra defender at Legg, and as he willingly gave it up, Piketon struggled to get good looks at the basket. On the night, Legg scored 18 points; however, no other Piketon player scored more than Jamie Heltonâ€™s eight points.
A Vinton County lay-up cut the lead to 48-46. After a Piketon turnover, Vinton Countyâ€™s Adam Ward hit a mid-lane jumper to tie the game at 48-48. As Piketon tried to inbound the ball, VC senior Levi Lawhead made a great read to record a steal and to get a timeout called before going out-of- bounds. The Vikings ran the clock down and Ward delivered an old-fashioned three-point play with 2.7 seconds remaining. Piketon had one last play as the Redstreaks were able to hit Legg moving to his right just shy of mid-court. Legg was able to take a few dribbles up the right sideline as he got off an extremely tough shot from about 27 feet. The shot was on line but was just short to secure the three- point win for VC.
In my opinion, Piketon should still be the top seed in Sundayâ€™s voting. The Redstreaks enter the draw still undefeated against Division III. I had a chance to watch Piketon on Friday and Saturday against two of the top five teams on their schedule, and I think they are in a nice spot to make a tournament run. I realize they still have two important SVC games to complete their perfect SVC season, but as they head to the tournament, I feel they are improving in some areas that many considered weaknesses earlier in the season. The main improvement is in the half court. Piketon continues to be very good in the full court. They have the ability to pressure well defensively, and offensively, Legg is impossible to contain in transition. In the half court, Piketon is starting to execute much better. Even though they have not shot the ball well the past two nights, they are becoming more consistent in getting some good looks. At Unioto Friday night, Piketon had some wonderful possessions in the second half to eat the clock, and on Saturday, I thought Piketon had a stretch in the second half where they played really well. They are also improving in their half court defense. If Keenan Brush can stay out of foul trouble, he camps in the middle and erases many mistakes on the perimeter. This allows Piketonâ€™s great perimeter defenders such as Legg and Helton to gamble a little bit more which leads to more transition.
Statistically, Legg is now just one point shy of becoming a top-10 scorer in SVC history. Click here to see the list. Also, click here to see tonightâ€™s McDonaldâ€™s iâ€™m lovinâ€™ it SVC Scoreboard which includes a heartbreaking loss for Zane Trace at the buzzer. You can also click here to see the scoreboard on the girls' side which includes a big night for Adena's Jenny Grigsby.