It was a back-and-forth grind until the final six minutes on Saturday when New Hope put together a decisive 15-1 run on its way to a 62-48 win over Vinton County inside Ohio Christian’s Maxwell Center.
“This was our first victory over Vinton County in six tries,” New Hope coach Shane Roese said. “We have great respect for their program and have held them as a standard of where we wanted to be.”
Clayton Rhyne took charge in the win, shooting 12 of 21 (57.1 percent) from the field, including 5 of 9 (55.5 percent) from three-point range, en route to a game-high 37 points. The New Hope senior also tossed in six rebounds. Andrew Swank was an efficient 3 of 5 (60 percent) shooting for nine points, and Lane Bruning scored eight points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
“Clayton continues to put us on his back offensively, and we screened to get matchups we wanted, and he took advantage of them,” Roese said.
Both teams entered the contest off of two wins earlier this week and were playing for the second time in as many days, so the action was a little sluggish in the opening minutes.
Bruning hit a trailing three-pointer, Adam Rink scored on a stick back and Rhyne knocked down a three to give the Statesmen a 17-11 lead, but the Vikings used their pressure to finish strong in the final minute of the quarter to tie the score up at 17-17.
Vinton County grabbed leads of 24-21 and 26-23 during the second quarter, but Rhyne capped the quarter with a triple and an old-fashioned three to send the Statesmen into halftime with a 29-26 lead.
The Vikings came out of halftime and scored on their first three possessions to take a 32-29 lead.
That’s when Rhyne hit a trio of three-pointers around a layup courtesy of Hunter Cavanaugh to give the Statesmen a 40-32 lead with 3:30 left in the period.
“Clayton made a bucket every time we needed one,” Roese said.
Vinton County finished the quarter on a mini 7-3 run to trim the Statesmen lead to 43-39 entering the final period of play.
The Vikings closed their deficit to 47-46 when the Statesmen made their move in the final six minutes.
Rhyne scored on a layup and old-fashioned three-point play to push the New Hope lead back to six points. Bruning then grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a stick back while being fouled. The New Hope junior post completed the old-fashioned three-point play of his own.
With a 55-46 lead, the Statesmen (13-6) then put away their historic win over the Division II Vikings (13-5) at the charity stripe.
“We played very physical defense, especially in the fourth quarter and that allowed us to grind out the win,” Roese said. “We have been hammering the fact to our guys that the toughest team is the one that sets the rules.
“Lane, again, was tough in the paint for us with 14 rebounds and five blocks.”
The Statesmen are back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Fairfield Christian.