By Cody Leist
OAK HILL — A Norm Persin-led basketball program rarely experiences a stretch of three losses in four games.
That was the case as Valley invaded Oak Hill in Tuesday’s SOC II contest. For the second-straight game, an opponent took advantage of the Oaks. Four days after Waverly’s Pierce Knisley put up 42 points against Oak Hill, Indians’ senior Hayden Dunn racked up 29 points and 11 rebounds in a 69-49 victory.
“We had to play like seniors tonight,” Valley coach Scott Rolfe said. “We were stronger than them, bigger than them. In the first time that we played, they hacked and slapped the ball out of our hands, there were 12 times where we had shot opportunities where we didn’t get a shot off because of them knocking the ball out of our hands.
“I just thought our guys played very strong tonight as far as on the rebounding edge.”
The number Rolfe eluded to on the glass was 39-25 overall and 12-2 offensively. The Indians parlayed that advantage into a 12-6 advantage in second-chance points.
Despite six lead changes and a tie to start the contest, Dunn started a 13-0 run that stretched into the second quarter. Valley’s lead reached to 17 when Zach Shope beat the clock with a 3-pointer just feet in front of the scorers table and the timeline.
The shot was a momentum generator if there was ever one needed.
“That was definitely encouraging, it’s not that I didn’t think that we would fall back off of that,” Rolfe said. “We talked at halftime, you’re up 14, you’ve got to continue to go out and pressure the ball and handle their pressure. We knew that they were going to turn it up.”
Facing another major hole, Oak Hill bounced back midway through the third quarter thanks to a 9-0 run and was down 49-40 with under four minutes remaining in the period.
“We come out in the second half, I thought we had tremendous energy,” Persin said. “We should have cut (the deficit) to five or six. We got it down to 11 and we had three-straight possessions where we got nothing out of it.”
However, Dunn connected on a layup two possessions later to halt the run and started a 6-2 spurt to end the period. The Indians’ defense stiffened in the fourth, allowing just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting and had the margin grow to as high as 23 points late in the game with many of the starters on the bench.
Dunn was 8-of-16 from the field and attempted all but four of his team’s 21 free throws. The senior made his first nine tries from the charity stripe.
“That’s something that he’s been able to do throughout the year,” Rolfe said. “Maybe not with those numbers every night but he’s a senior that has played a lot of ball and he got great position tonight, getting rebounds plus also getting putbacks on those rebounds. That’s the kind of night you would expect out of a two-and-a-half-year starter that is bigger and stronger than who he is playing against.”
Persin could not help but praise Dunn for his efforts.
“They had a man, he’s the best player in the league,” Persin said. “He was voted the best player last year as a junior and he just took the game over early. We didn’t have an answer for him and when they did miss it, we couldn’t rebound.”
Chris Flowers and Bryan Rolfe added 11 points each in the victory. Jordon Fisher paced the Oaks with 14 while Garrin Stiltner added 12 and Kyle Cox chipped in with 10.
With four games between them and SOC II perfection, Scott Rolfe knows his team cannot have a letdown in Friday’s contest at South Webster. But as the weather is forcing games to be played on different dates, Scott Rolfe likes the direction his team is trending despite the lack of games.
“This is our third big win in a row as far as 20 or more points,” Scott Rolfe said. “Last week against West, we finally shot pretty it well.”
Oak Hill stays in Jackson County when Wheelersburg pays a visit for Friday’s SOC II game. With Alexander and Minford also upcoming, Persin knows his team is just getting into the meat of the schedule.
“It’s not going to get any easier,” Persin said.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Valley 21 24 10 14 — 69
Oak Hill 10 18 14 7 — 49
Valley — Clark-Holbrook 1-0-3, Flowers 4-2-11, Rolfe 4-2-11, Howard 1-0-2, Shope 1-0-3, Brown 2-0-4, West 2-0-4, Dunn 8-13-29, K. Miller 1-0-2, Totals 24-17-69.
Oak Hill — Harrison 1-5-7, Stiltner 5-0-12, Salyers 2-0-4, Cox 4-0-10, Fisher 5-3-14, Fleming 1-0-2, Totals 18-8-49.
3-Point Goals — Valley 4 (Clark-Holbrook, Flowers, Rolfe, Shope); Oak Hill 5 (Stiltner 3, Cox 2, Fisher).
Records — Valley 16-2 (10-0); Oak Hill 11-5 (6-4).