By Brad Morris
Abby Tier put the finishing touch on an improbable comeback for Teays Valley on Tuesday, splitting a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining in a 46-45 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win over host Amanda-Clearcreek.
The Vikings (11-3, 8-1) erupted for 34 second half points to erase a 30-12 halftime deficit and remain tied for first in the league with Bloom-Carroll (11-3, 8-1). The Bulldogs, which held off Liberty Union 39-35 last night, travel to Teays Valley on Thursday where the two teams will battle to determine who will take sole possession of first.
“I’m really proud of the way our girls stuck with it and continued to battle. They had to face a lot of adversity tonight and they found a way to overcome every obstacle that they faced,” Teays Valley coach Trevor Younkin said. “Abby made a huge free throw with everyone watching her to finally give us the lead and ultimately the win.”
Foul trouble to junior post Kennedy Younkin and junior wing Alyssa Horsley combined to limit the productive tandem to just two points in the first half when the Vikings can normally depend on the duo for 28.8 points per game.
“Obviously, that really hurt us losing Kennedy about four minutes into the game for the rest of the first half with two fouls and then having to sit Alyssa for about the last half of the second quarter,” Younkin said. “You have to give credit to Amanda-Clearcreek, because coach (Tim Leist) had them fired up, they came out and played an exceptional first half and really made it hurt.”
While foul trouble limited the Vikings to just four first half field goals, the Aces took charge led by their duo of senior wing Emily Buckley and freshman guard Taylor Evans.
Buckley scored nine points in the first quarter, including hitting all five of her free throws, and Evans drilled a pair of field goals, including a triple, to help the Aces claim a 17-7 lead.
“Emily was in a zone during the first half,” Younkin praised. “If you gave her a foot, she would put up the shot and drill it and if you crowded her then she drove right past, got into the paint and either scored or got to the free throw line.
“I told her after the game that she played a heck of a game and that was probably the best I’ve seen her play.”
Amanda-Clearcreek extended its advantage to 30-12 in the second quarter. Buckley was five of six at the charity stripe in the period, while Hailey Sowers and Evans each connected on a triple.
The Vikings were held to just one field goal in the period, a basket courtesy of Gabrielle Watkins and were just 3 of 6 (50 percent) at the line.
With Younkin and Horsley back on the hardwood in the third quarter, the Vikings began their furious comeback with a 20-7 run to cut its deficit down to 37-32.
“We talked to the girls at halftime that we weren’t going to get all of those points back in the third quarter,” Younkin said. “We needed to stay calm, follow the game plan and try to put ourselves in a position to where we could win the game in the fourth quarter, which is what our girls did.”
Five players contributed to the scoring in each period for the Vikings. Younkin scored eight of her 10 points in the third quarter, Alyssa Horsley followed with five points and Tier connected on a three.
The Vikings finished erasing their deficit in the fourth quarter, with Horsley scoring six more points and Cline connecting on a three.
“Kennedy really got going in the third and then Alyssa followed suit and started knocking down some shots,” Younkin said. “That started to get us going, and we also got some nice contributions from players like Gabrielle Watkins, Kayla Cline and Abby Tier.”
Tier saw an opening in the closing seconds, attacked the middle of the lane and was fouled on the shot. The junior guard missed her first free throw but regrouped, following a timeout by the Aces, to make the second and put the Vikings ahead 46-45 with just two seconds remaining.
“Abby saw an opening in Amanda’s defense, she attacked it and did a nice job of getting to the free throw line,” Younkin said. “She missed the first free throw and then Amanda called a timeout trying to ice her for the second one. I actually think that helped Abby, because she calmed down, stepped up to the line and drained the second free throw, which I believed she could do.”
A long desperation shot by the Aces missed the mark, allowing the Vikings to dodge the upset bid.
Buckley paced the Aces with 16 points but was held to just a third quarter field goal during the second half, thanks in part to a defensive change the Vikings made. Evans followed with 15 points, seven of which were scored in the second half, and Sowers and Kaylie Wilson contributed six apiece.
“Emily and Taylor are two really solid basketball players, so we decided to switch to a triangle-and-two defense and that threw a wrench into Amanda’s offense during the second half. Our girls also did a nice job of face guarding Emily,” Younkin said.
Horsley led the Vikings with 13 points, Younkin tallied 10, Watkins had nine and Tier tossed in eight.
The Aces (7-6, 4-4) host Columbus Academy on Thursday for a non-league contest.
Teays Valley 46, Amanda-Clearcreek 45
TEAYS VALLEY — Abby Tier 2-3-8, Sydney Manring 0-1-1, Kayla Cline 2-0-5, Kennedy Younkin 5-0-10, Alyssa Horsley 5-1-13, Gabrielle Watkins 4-0-9. Three-point goals — Horsley (2), Watkins, Tier and Cline. Total — 18 5-12 46.
AMANDA-CLEARCREEK — Emily Buckley 3-10-16, Megan Tooill 1-0-2, Hailey Sowers 2-1-6, Taylor Evans 5-2-15, Kaylie Wilson 2-2-6. Three-point goals — Evans (3) and Sowers. Total — 13 15-17 45.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Teays Valley 7 5 20 14 46
Am.-Clearcreek 17 13 7 8 45