by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
PICKERINGTON — Stingy defenses made points hard to come by for both teams Saturday but Africentric was able to break through in the fourth quarter to beat Teays Valley 32-25.
“We talked about how our defense had to be excellent – and it was – our defense was excellent tonight, we just couldn’t finish in the fourth quarter,” TV coach Trevor Younkin said. “I think we were a little passive in our passing. We weren’t decisive enough. They applied a little bit more pressure and we kind of stepped back from it.”
TV had a 19-17 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Africentric’s Rayanna Howell scored a few seconds in to tie the game and TV’s Ashley DeWeese hit one of two free throws 25 seconds later. Ariel Grace scored as the clock went under seven minutes to put the Nubians back up and TV tied the game again when Kennedy Younkin hit one of two free throws with 5:39 showing.
Africentric took the lead for good on a basket by Grace to make it 23-21 with four minutes left. Howell came through, scoring off an offensive rebound. Grace hit the first of two free throws with 1:03 showing and sophomore Kamryn Grant grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to make it 28-21.
TV came up with baskets from DeWeese and Younkin in the final minute, but the Nubians got a pair of free throws each from Grace and Ashtan Winfrey to hold on to the win.
Through three quarters, Africentric had turned the ball over 11 times and the Vikings nine. In the decisive fourth, the Vikings had four more turnovers while the Nubians had none.
Coach Younkin had taken some extra steps this week to help his squad prepare for the size and speed advantage Africentric had.
“I brought in our senior baseball boys to help us as a scout team,” he said. “Their pressure was good, but Africentric’s was little bit better.”
Neither team had a player reach double figures Saturday afternoon.
Grace was the game’s top scorer with nine points, seven in the fourth quarter, had five rebounds and was named the player of the game as the contest was part of the inaugural three-day Classic In the City.
Howell, Sam Thompson and Grant each had six for Africentric.
Younkin was TV’s top scorer with eight and DeWeese and Alyssa Horsley each had five.
The Vikings ended the contest with a 31-30 rebounding edge, with Younkin grabbing eight. Grant had eight to lead the Nubians.
With the post season on the horizon, Saturday’s game with the Nubians gives the Vikings a taste of what they’ll likely face when the Central District Division I tournament begins. And before they left the court, coach Younkin asked them to use this game as motivation.
“I said. ‘Promise me one thing – you take what happened right here, a little bit of this disappointment, and apply it come tournament, the next time we’re on a big stage.’ This is what we need to see. Their speed will help us when we have to face maybe Pick Central, a Dublin Coffman. It’s good for us to have a game like this on our schedule.
“It would have been a little sweeter if we’d have gotten the victory.”
The Vikings (10-3) have a pair of MSL Buckeye games in the coming week as they travel to Bloom-Carroll Tuesday and then host Logan Elm Thursday for the game that was postponed last weekend.
Africentric 32, Teays Valley 25
Africentric— Ashtan Winfrey 1-0-2, Faith Martin 3-0-6, Sam Thompson 3-0-6, Shaunie Little 0-1-1, Ariel Grace 3-3-9, Kamryn Grant 2-2-6, Taelynn Clayborn 1-0-2. Total — 12-40 8-16 32.
Teays Valley — Abby Tier 1-0-2, Aimee Watson 1-0-2, Jenna Horsley 1-0-3, Ashley DeWeese 1-3-5, Kennedy Younkin 2-4-8, Alyssa Horsley 2-1-5. Three-point goals — J Horsley. Total — 8-38 8-16 25.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Africentric 11 3 3 15 32
Teays Valley 12 2 5 6 25