Alone in first: Vikings pull together to defeat Bulldogs

By Brad Morris

ASHVILLE — Kennedy Younkin wanted to make sure on Thursday that the Teays Valley girls basketball team learned from history.

“We felt like we had a team that could have won the (Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship) last year, but we could never take control of our own destiny,” the junior post player said. “We lost to Fairfield Union the first time and beat them the second time and then we beat Bloom-Carroll the first time and lost to them the second time, so that cost us winning the league championship.

“We knew coming into tonight’s game that we had an opportunity to seize control of first and control our own destiny, and we didn’t want to let this opportunity slip through our fingers.”

The Vikings used a balanced scoring effort and largely cut off the penetration offense of visiting Bloom-Carroll to claim a 47-37 win and take sole possession of first in the league.

Teays Valley’s Kennedy Younkin turned in a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, while also swatting three shots. Photos by Scott Iles Photography

Kennedy Younkin said the Vikings (12-3, 9-1) learned some lessons from a 34-28 loss to Bloom-Carroll last month that helped them win the rematch.

“Bloom-Carroll is a tough team to defend, because Emily Bratton can get to the basket to score or kick out to one of their other shooters for an open three,” she said. “We knew for us to win this time around, we needed to hold Emily in check as much as we could because she’s an outstanding player who can get to the basket and also knock down threes.

“It was my job to contest and alter shots inside and then our perimeter players did a nice job of getting a hand in the face of their shooters and contesting everything.”

Bratton, who missed the last two games due to illness, returned to the lineup still not feeling 100 percent and gutted out a 19-point performance, although eight of those points came late when the game had already been decided.

The Bulldogs (11-4, 8-2) were checked to just 6 of 27 (22.2 percent) shooting from three-point range.

“This was a fantastic team win for us, where our girls executed at a high level on both ends of the floor,” Teays Valley coach Trevor Younkin said. “We did a nice job contesting everything and making it hard on Bloom-Carroll on defense and that solid team play carried over to the other end of the floor.”

Teays Valley’s Alyssa Horsley connects on a three-pointer during the first quarter on her way to a team-high 13 points on Thursday in a 47-37 win over Bloom-Carroll. Photos by Scott Iles Photography

Alyssa Horsley contributed 13 points and six rebounds to pace the Vikings and Younkin turned in a double-double of 10 points, 11 rebounds and blocked three shots. Abby Tier tallied nine points, Kayla Cline contributed eight points and Gabrielle Watkins dished out six assists to go with her five points.

Bratton hit a pair of free throws midway through the second quarter to give the Bulldogs (11-4, 8-2) their final lead of the night at 17-16.

The Vikings closed the half on a 14-4 run, where they scored on six of their final eight possessions of the period. A putback from Sydney Manring gave the Vikings the lead back for good. Younkin quickly followed with a pair of layups that were sandwiched around the junior post feeding Horsley for a short jumper off the right block. Back-to-back triples courtesy of Tier and Horsley closed the run and sent the Vikings into halftime with a 30-21 lead.

“We’ve been working hard on our ball movement over the past couple of weeks and playing inside-out,” Kennedy Younkin said. “When the ball is passed into me, often the defense dives down and tries to double or triple team me around the block, so that’s when I kick it to the outside for a rhythm shot from one of our shooters.

“We did a nice job for most of the game working the ball inside-out or around the perimeter and getting some nice looks at the basket that we knocked down.”

The Vikings delivered their knockout blow beginning with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter, as they held the Bulldogs without a field goal for the ensuing eight minutes and 47 seconds.

During the drought, the Bulldogs missed nine straight shots, six of those from three-point range, turned the ball over three times and could only muster a pair of free throws from Bratton.

The Vikings used a decisive 12-2 run to turn a two-possession game into a commanding 47-31 advantage with 2:12 remaining. Four players scored during the run, which featured a pair of baskets from Younkin, and two three-pointers courtesy of Tier and Cline.

Teays Valley’s Kayla Cline drives to the basket to score in the third quarter. Photos by Scott Iles Photography

“Everyone knows that Kennedy and Alyssa are our leaders on the floor and they played well again tonight, but we don’t get out to that type of lead without contributions from players like Abby Tier, Kayla Cline and Gabrielle Watkins,” Trevor Younkin said.

“First, Abby did a great job of running the point and face-guarding Emily Bratton, which was a very difficult assignment. Kayla Cline is a silent but deadly shooter and when defenders give her room like they did tonight, we need her to take advantage and score the basketball. We believe in her ability. And then Gabrielle did a nice job of helping us move the basketball with her six assists and scoring some, as well.”

The Vikings finished the game 17 of 36 (47.2 percent) from the field, compared to the Bulldogs shooting 13 of 41 (31.7 percent), and controlled the glass by a 25-20 count.

Teays Valley travels to Pickerington Central on Saturday for a non-league tilt against Bishop Hartley in the first game of the Classic in the City and then resumes league play on Thursday when it hosts Fairfield Union.

Kennedy Younkin believes the Vikings have built momentum this week, coming back from foul trouble and an 18-point halftime deficit two days earlier to edge Amanda-Clearcreek 46-45 and then avenging their earlier loss to Bloom-Carroll.

“The win over Amanda got us going, because that showed us what we are capable of when we put our minds toward something, and then we carried that over into tonight’s game and played well as a team to beat Bloom-Carroll,” Younkin said. “We have our path now if we take care of business and play the type of basketball that we are capable of playing.”

Teays Valley’s Gabrielle Watkins knocks down a three-pointer during the first quarter. Photos by Scott Iles Photography

Teays Valley 47, Bloom-Carroll 37
BLOOM-CARROLL — Tessa Brooks 1-0-3, Emily Bratton 6-5-19, Natalie Long 2-0-4, Marissa Wilkinson 3-0-9, Alyssa Brown 1-0-2. Three-point goals — Wilkinson (3), Bratton (2) and Brooks. Total — 13-41 5-5 37.
TEAYS VALLEY— Abby Tier 3-0-9, Sydney Manring 1-0-2, Kayla Cline 3-0-8, Kennedy Younkin 4-2-10, Alyssa Horsley 5-0-13, Gabrielle Watkins 1-2-5. Three-point goals — Tier (3), Horsley (3), Cline (2) and Watkins. Total — 17-36 4-6 47.

Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Bloom-Carroll 15 6 8 8 37
Teays Valley 13 17 12 5 47

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