MINFORD- There was 30 seconds left in the game, Minford was leading the Valley Indians by a score of 50-45. Bryan Rolfe had the ball at the top of the arc, was double teamed, and managed to find a wide open Blake Howard in the corner who sunk the 3-point shot.
With five seconds left, the Indians had the ball back. Coming out of a timeout, the Indians got the ball to their leading scorer Rolfe for the final shot. He decided to take what would have been the game-winning three, but missed as time expired.
Minford managed to hand Valley their first loss of the season in a truly epic battle between the two SOC powerhouses. They will have a rematch to end the regular season Friday, Feb. 12.
Both teams came out showing a bit of nerves, turning over each of their first possessions of the night. Shortly after, Valley managed to take a 2-4 lead before the Falcons pulled of a 9-0 run. The Falcons were on fire from the field in the first, taking advantage from the ball pressure on Brandon Rowe as he made the proper outlet passes that led to points in the quarter. After one the score was 21-10, with Minford leading.
After a three from Minford’s Tyler McCormick in the second, Valley went on a 7-0 run as Rolfe found the net for the first, but certainly not the last, time of the night. They amped up the defensive intensity and limited Minford in the second. Rowe was limited to just four points at the half, but Trey Kelley had already poured in 12 for the Falcons. Aaron Linne led in scoring at the break for Valley as Rolfe and Howard found him inside for baskets in the paint.
During the third quarter Bryan Rolfe really started to get going. He pilfered the ball from Minford on two straight possessions and turned both into fast break points. The Indians cut the lead to just four, at 36-32. Minford responded with a 5-0 run to end the quarter however, bringing the score to 41-32 going into the fourth.
Valley managed to turn Minford over seven times in the fourth, and built momentum steadily throughout the quarter. They chipped away at the Falcon lead, going on a 7-0 run at one point that would leave them down by three with just three minutes to go. The Indians fought and clawed the rest of the game, and had a chance to win the game at the end but came up just short. Bryan Rolfe led all scorers with 18. Trey Kelly led the Falcons with 16.
“They came out and played very well in the first half,” said Valley Head Coach Scott Rolfe. “We put ourself in a big hole. We kind of battled back and gave ourselves a chance at the end but we came up just short. They shot the ball great, we shot terribly. That was the story of the game tonight. We were 8 for 18 from the foul line tonight. And we lost by two. Everything went their way tonight and we didn’t earn anything. Something we’ve been able to do all season is get into those situations and make things happen but we couldn’t make it happen tonight.”
“Our guys hung in there. We kept talking about just giving yourselves a chance at the end. We were down two with the ball but we couldn’t score. We knew it was going to be a good ballgame. The good thing about is that we will play them again.”
The Valley Indians travel to North Adams Saturday to take part in the Classic in a game against the Chesapeake Panthers. Game time is at 6:45.
Minford travels to Waverly Tuesday night to face the Tigers. Tipoff is at 7:30.
“It was a great game,” said Minford Head Coach Josh Shoemaker. “Both teams played really hard. We went up early, but Valley is going to make runs. They are truly a great team. I’m really proud of our kids for being able to withstand their momentum and runs, hitting critical free throws and getting big stops at the end.”
“Trey Kelley shot us into the lead tonight. They started coming out and guarding him after that and other guys had to step up. Everyone played their role tonight. Tyler McCormick was my player of the game. He only had five points but he guarded as well as I’ve seen tonight and without him we don’t with this ballgame.”
“The second half of league play is going to be brutal. Everyone is getting better and you have to have the same energy and focus that we had tonight. We have seniors leading this team so it shouldn’t be a problem for us. One slip up and we will back into a tie with Valley. We want to keep working night in and night out and see them again at the end.”
Valley 10 13 9 16 — 48
Minford 21 10 10 9 — 50