Paint Valley entered Saturday eveningâ€™s Division III Sectional Championship with hopes of returning to Athens for the first time since 2002, but a bad fourth quarter saw the title slip through the hands of the Bearcats in a 56-45 loss to Northwest.
Paint Valley scored the first six points of the game only to see Northwest answer with a 14-6 run as the Bearcats trailed 14-12 after one quarter of play. The run continued into the second quarter as Northwest scored the first bucket to go up 16-12, but Paint Valley responded to score seven straight points to go up 19-16. The two teams would eventually end the seesaw first half tied at 21-21 at halftime.
The Bearcats had several chances early in the second half to grab the early advantage, but the failure to capitalize allowed Northwest the opportunity to jump out in front. Northwest was able to stretch its lead out to six a couple of times including the 37-31 advantage early in the fourth quarter. Once again Paint Valley responded. The Bearcats fought back to within two at 44-42 on a Garett Tyree steal, drive, and score, but Paint Valley would get no closer. Northwest pushed the lead back to six at 48-42, and as PV started to fall in love with the quick three on one end, the Mohawks sealed the deal at the charity stripe at the other end. All totaled, Northwest outscored PV 15-5 at the free throw line.
The loss marks the end of the road for a really good senior class for the Bearcats. Paint Valley says goodbye to Tyree, Logan Markko, Caleb Stratton, Aaron Claytor, Nathan Barker, Tim Everhart, Logan Krivak, and Kevin Littler. Markko was outstanding for PV in his final game. The senior center scored 21 points and at times was single handily keeping the Bearcats in the game. At one stretch in the second half, PV was having trouble getting the ball inside to Markko, but he cleaned the glass on three straight possessions to record put-back baskets. Markko ended with 12 rebounds. The all-time PV shot blocker also was doing it on the other end as he twice in the second half blocked shots that nearly landed at the scorerâ€™s table. Click here to see tonightâ€™s McDonaldâ€™s iâ€™m lovinâ€™ it SVC Boysâ€™ Basketball Scoreboard.