By Brad Morris
With Teays Valley nursing a one-point lead entering the fourth quarter on Wednesday, coach Trevor Younkin wanted the Vikings to focus on better execution.
“It was basically go time or go home time, because it was anyone’s ball game at that point,” he said. “We talked to the girls during the quarter break about executing better and just reacting and making plays.”
The Vikings started the decisive quarter on an 8-0 run and eventually pulled away to record a 53-43 win over visiting Hilliard Bradey in a Division I Central District sectional semifinal game.
Kennedy Younkin posted a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Vikings, Alyssa Horsley contributed 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Abby Tier also tossed in two points and dished out four assists.
Kayla Cline opened the fourth quarter by taking a feed from Tier and knocking down a three-pointer from the left wing that rolled around the rim and in. Tier then found Horsley for another triple, this one from beyond the top of the key. Younkin then closed the run by taking a pass from Gabrielle Watkins and knocking down a short jumper to put the Vikings ahead 35-26.
“That was a big sequence to open up the fourth quarter,” Younkin said. “Kayla and Alyssa stepped up with two huge threes there to at least give us a decent lead to work with, although we still won’t feeling really comfortable with how Leigha Dennison was playing.”
Dennison led all scorers with 24 points, showing off a nice combination of driving to the basket complimented by a mid-range game. The Vikings held the 5-foot-10 senior guard to eight points in the first half, but Dennison scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as the speed of the sectional semifinal game picked up.
“I felt like we did a nice job of mixing our man defense, box-and-one and a little 2-3 zone for most of the game. Alyssa Horsley did a nice job of staying in good defensive position when we were in man to stop Dennison from getting to the basket,” Younkin said. “When the game picked up there, especially in the fourth, Dennison made some nice plays and showed the talent that she has.
“We scouted them a few times and knew the type of player she is. She would be a nice player for a college.”
An old-fashioned three-point play by Younkin off an offensive rebound stretched the Vikings’ lead to 10 at 38-28.
“Bradley really didn’t have a big, so we knew we had an advantage with Kennedy inside at 6-foot-2 and she did a nice job of attacking the basket and rebounding,” Younkin said. “Whenever we can get some extra possessions with the offensive glass, that’s huge, especially in a close ballgame.”
From there, the Vikings (16-7) were able to match the Jaguars (10-12) score for score.
Tier led the way with 10 points of the Vikings’ final 15 points, making a pair of baskets and going a perfect 6 of 6 at the free throw line to lead a 12 of 13 (92.3 percent) effort in the fourth quarter for the blue-and-gold.
“One of those things that was embedded in my head at college was free throws win championships and that’s something I’ve embedded in the heads of our girls,” Younkin said. “Our girls did an exceptional job of knocking down free throws in crunch time.”
The Vikings advance to a sectional final on Saturday against No. 23 seeded Chillicothe (14-8), with tip-off at 1 p.m.
Younkin reflected on the growth that the Vikings have shown this season and what awaits them over the weekend.
“We have a team that has bonded together and brought along our younger players over the course of the season to accomplish some of our first goals, like winning the county championship, winning the league championship and getting to at least 15 wins,” he said. “We earned respect from the coaches in our district by being voted the 14th seed and I this win affirms that respect we received, because Bradley plays a really difficult schedule against teams like Olentangy Liberty, Dublin Coffman, Upper Arlington and others.
“Now, we have an opportunity to continue and build momentum by going out on Saturday and trying to win back-to-back sectionals to take into the rest of the tournament and then into next season, where we will have everyone back and a year older.”
Division I Central District
No. 14 Teays Valley 53,
No. 24 Hilliard Bradley 43
HILLIARD BRADLEY — Marina Chapman 3-0-7, Annabelle Jantonio 2-0-6, Reagan Voigt 2-0-6, Leigha Dennison 10-4-24. Three-point goals — Jantonio (2), Voight (2) and Chapman. Total — 17-44 4-4 43.
TEAYS VALLEY — Charisma Roberts 1-0-2, Abby Tier 3-6-12, Kayla Cline 1-0-3, Kennedy Younkin 7-5-19, Alyssa Horsley 4-2-12, Gabrielle Watkins 1-2-5. Three-point goals — Horsley (2), Cline and Watkins. Total — 17-32 15-18 53.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Hilliard Bradley 10 4 12 17 43
Teays Valley 12 7 8 26 53