By Brad Morris
Although Teays Valley saw its season come to an end on Wednesday in 61-41 Division I Central District semifinal loss to fifth-seeded Westerville South, coach Trevor Younkin felt the Vikings took another step forward this season.
Tasked with replacing three starters, the Vikings won the Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship for the first time since 2019 and finished the season with a 17-8 overall record and went 11-3 in league play.
Junior guard Alyssa Horsley (14.6 points, six rebounds 3.4 assists) and junior post Kennedy Younkin (11.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks) led the way for the Vikings in their third seasons, respectively, in the starting lineup.
Junior Abby Tier (8.4 points, 2.1 assists) took over at point guard and helped run the offense, while the Vikings also received key contributions throughout the season from junior guard Gabrielle Watkins (6.5 points, 2.7 rebounds) and sophomore guard Kayla Cline (4.1 points, 3 rebounds).
“I was truly happy with this year’s team,” Younkin said. “Replacing three starters from graduation is always tough for any program. However, I truly believe Abby, Gabrielle and Kayla did an outstanding job fulfilling those rolls in their own style.
“Abby stepped into the point guard position with determination and strength. Abby brings confidence with her ball handling and the ability to drive and shoot making her a threat. Gabrielle brings a strong basketball IQ to the floor. Gabrielle is not super flashy, but knows what needs to be done and when things need to be executed. Gabrielle was asked to guard our opponents’ better players at times and was successful at it. Kayla is an extremely solid guard. She does things well with limited turnovers and plays a consistent all-around game night in and night out. If left open, Kayla has a nice outside shot and is not afraid to shoot it.”
Younkin also commented on the leadership that his daughter, Kennedy, and Horsley brought to the fold.
“Kennedy and Alyssa had an outstanding year,” he said. “Their leadership as our team captains showed day in and day out. Both have great basketball IQ’s and love this game. They did everything the coaching staff asked them to do and more. We are excited to have them both back for their senior season.”
Younkin reflected on the growth the team showed, which started back during last summer.
“Our growth truly developed over the summer with workouts, shootouts, and team camp and it carried over into this season,” he said. “If you want to be the best you have to play the best. You have to learn from those tough and challenging teams and situations you face in the summer and use that when the season comes around.”
The Vikings are slated to return all five starters for next year, which will be their final season in the MSL before moving to the Ohio Capital Conference for 2024-25.
Younkin wants to see the program continue to take steps as it has the previous two seasons.
“When you return your starting five for next season, you should feel pretty good,” he said. “We know next year is going to be different in many ways. As returning champions we want to have a similar outcome as this year, but we know that night in and night out next year we will get everyone’s best effort. Knowing this we have to improve in areas before next year — strength, speed and chemistry.
“Second, we truly only played seven players this season. If we want the same outcome and to go farther in the districts, we have to bring more players to the table. We have some sophomores, freshmen and eighth-graders that with more workouts, training and skill development can strengthen us for next season. Building that trust and chemistry is extremely important to us.
“I am a true believer in our summer program,” Younkin added. “Shootouts, team camp, and our Rumble in the Valley will help us build for next season. Our ultimate goal is to have a strong summer, competitive league play for our last opportunity to win a MSL title and return to the Central District for a district championship.”
Division I Central District semifinal
No. 5 Westerville South 61,
No. 14 Teays Valley 41
TEAYS VALLEY— Charisma Roberts 1-0-3, Abby Tier 1-8-11, Kennedy Younkin 3-7-13, Alyssa Horsley 3-2-8, Gabrielle Watkins 2-2-6. Three-point goals — Roberts and Tier. Total — 10 19-26 41.
WESTERVILLE SOUTH —Daziah Dupree 4-0-9, Leila Jones 2-0-4, Ariyana Cradle 1-0-3, Zoe Guice 3-0-7, Tamara Ortiz 11-0-26, Nalia Guice 3-1-8, Ava Quint 2-0-4. Three-point goals — Ortiz (4), Nalia Guice, Zoe Guice, Cradle and Dupree. Total — 26 1-7 61.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Teays Valley 7 11 12 11 41
W. South 19 18 14 10 61