By Brad Morris
Teays Valley weathered a couple of early blows from St. Charles on Saturday to enter the fourth quarter of a Division I Central District sectional final trailing just 33-28.
Unfortunately, the host Cardinals pulled away in the fourth quarter to claim a 55-35 win in a game played at Bishop Watterson.
“I was proud of our guys’ effort, because there were a few times we could have given up to St. Charles’ physicality and strength, but we never did and our guys battled until the final buzzer,” Teays Valley coach Brian Barnett said. “I thought early on we did a good job of attacking the basket and moving the basketball to get a great shot. I also thought we did a good job of defending them in the half-court court and making them earn baskets.
“We struggled to make baskets at times throughout the game. Give credit to their size and strength. All year long we never panicked when we were down, we kept battling and battling.”
Brody Fields led the way for the Vikings (18-6) in their season finale with 12 points, and Ryan Allton and Kole Nungester added eight apiece.
The Vikings successfully mixed a talented freshmen class, led by Fields and Nungester, to returning players such as Brayden Primmer, Sam Miller, Ivan Smith and Allton, to win 18 games this season and a share of their first Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship since 2019.
Teays Valley had a balanced offense with Fields (13.7 points), Miller (12.1), Allton (11.1) and Nungester (11.1) all averaging double figures. Miller led the way on the glass battles, averaging 7.4 rebounds per game and received help from Nungester (6.7), Primmer (5.9) and others.
Barnett discussed the way the Vikings bonded together this season to get the job done more often than note on the hardwood.
“Our guys have done an exceptional job of bonding and growing together as a team. They worked hard every day in practice and went above and beyond what was expected of them,” he said. “I never had to ask them to get to practice early to get in some extra shooting or stay after practice to get some extra work in. All of our players are high character kids, they know what is expected of them and they put their noses to the grindstone and get the job done.
“I am very proud of this team; they have done so much in turning our culture around and turning Teays Valley Basketball back into a championship program. All year long these guys have been fun to watch and fun to work with, a big testament to that is look at how our fans turned out for our games this season.”
Barnett reflected on the leadership that his senior class of Allton, Primmer and Smith turned in this season.
“As the season comes to a close, we lose three seniors that have meant a great deal to our program over the last four years,” he said. “These three are really special players and people and I could not have asked for any better seniors then Brayden, Ivan and Ryan.
“These guys gave us everything they had and exactly what we expected of them this season. It started in the spring and continued throughout summer and into the fall. These guys were at everything we did and made sure that everyone else was there as well. I am so proud of these guys and they will each be missed.”
Barnett went into detail about what each senior did individually for the team this season.
“Ryan is without a doubt our energy guy, because he put his body on the line every night, practice or game,” he praised. “His defensive intensity and grit along with scoring ability will be tough to replace. Brayden’s defensive length and rebounding are something that you cannot coach and he increased his vertical jump and offensive game over the summer and it really paid off for him this season. The thing we will miss most is that he is our glue guy. He got us together and made sure we are in the right defense or running the right set. The things he did for our team may never show up in the box score but if you do not have them, you do not have a complete team.
“Ivan is a young man that we asked to play junior varsity as a junior – never complained – he just went and did his work,” he added. “The result was a great senior season. He really developed his skill of finishing around the rim and his passing skill. He is a smart player and was always in the right position defensively, which may have been his biggest attribute to our team. Ivan’s presence will be a big void to replace.”
With three starters slated to return next season, Barnett has high expectations going into the Vikings’ farewell season in the MSL before moving to the Ohio Capital Conference starting in the 2024-25 school year.
“We have a lot of good talent coming back for the 2023-24 season. With this being our MSL finale, I am expecting big things from our returning players,” he said. “Sam had a great junior season, he will continue to develop his outside game and hone his inside skills. I am expecting big things from Sam next season, from an offensive and defensive perspective as well as leadership and guidance.
“Kole will take over our point position and will create some difficult matchup problems for opponents. Kole is a very solid player that makes great decisions with the basketball and had outstanding instincts when it comes to the game. His defense is solid, and I believe he will continue to rebound the basketball at a high level. Kole will be counted on heavily at both ends of the floor and his leadership skills will make us go far. Brody is one of those players that has a gift to score. He will be relied on to get the ball in the basket nightly. The thing that Brody did this season and will continue to get better at is his defense. I am looking for Brody to have a great off season and come back for his sophomore season better.
“These three will be the core of our team next year,” he added. “They are all very good basketball players that have the ability to play at a high level and are fun to watch nightly. We will also rely on the experience and rebounding of Riley Dick as he begins his senior season. We do have a core group of players that will vie for playing time next year — Luke Burgett, Cavin McDowell, Kaden Hines and Owen Hoffhines — the offseason will have a big impact on decisions in the winter.”
Division I Central District
No. 13 St. Charles 55,
No. 22 Teays Valley 35
TEAYS VALLEY — Kole Nungester 4-0-8, Brody Fields 5-1-12, Ryan Allton 3-1-8, Brayden Primmer 1-1-3, Sam Miller 2-0-4. Three-point goals — Fields and Allton. Total — 15-3-35.
ST. CHARLES — Noah Nordstrom 1-0-2, Zach Auletta 3-3-9, John Levy 1-0-2, Isaac Willey 0-2-2, George Mosholder 4-0-11, Chase Walker 6-6-18, Max Colucy 4-3-11. Three-point goals — Mosholder (3). Total — 19-14-55.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Teays Valley 8 7 13 7 35
St. Charles 13 9 11 22 55