PDT Sports Writer
ATHENS — Entering the second quarter down 22-9, Piketon coach Jeff Lisath knew his team was in panic mode.
The SVC champion and No. 2 Redstreaks were able to chip away at the lead of No. 3 Valley, co-champions of the SOC II, and put together a strong fourth quarter to leave Ohio University’s Convocation Center Saturday night with a 55-49 Division III Southeast District Semifinal win over the Indians. Piketon will play in next Friday’s district final against No. 8 Crooksville, which defeated No. 5 Minford 65-59 earlier in the day.
“Playing against a good team like Valley, I felt like they brought the fight to us in the first half and they controlled most of the game,” Lisath said. “At one point in the third quarter, I (told the) guys it comes down to you’re really, really going to have to fight and believe that you can pull this one out.”
Valley mixed up its offensive attack with shots from inside and from the perimeter. The Indians were a proficient 8-of-15 from the floor and 3-of-7 from the arc.
“We started off, felt we were really prepared for what they were going to do,” Valley coach Scott Rolfe said.
With senior Craigen Moore accounting for seven of his team’s nine points in the first, Lisath knew help from the rest of the team would need to start coming. One person that impressed him was Colten Williams, who finished with seven points off the bench but gave energy that Lisath was looking for out of his troops.
“He’s been giving us that all season long,” Lisath said. “I’m just grateful that he came in and sparked us and gave us the energy that we needed.”
The Redstreaks forced the Indians into five turnovers in the second and brought the game back to a 26-23 affair at the half.
Out of the locker room, Valley rebuilt its lead to 44-32 with 5:10 left in the game as Piketon guard Isaac Brabson was on the bench with four fouls, three coming in the third quarter. Brabson returned with 5:10 remaining and helped the Redstreaks finish the game on a 23-4 run to close the game.
“It was very similar to the first time that we played them,” Rolfe said. “The last three minutes of the game or the last four minutes of the game, they went into more of a trap mode.
“We didn’t take care of the ball very well and they just created some turnovers. We had many opportunities and shots that we’ve worked on and talked about that we could get. Ours didn’t fall and theirs did fall.”
Moore led all scorers with 19 points and ripped down a 50-50 rebound with four seconds left that sent him to the line to make four total free throws, two from a personal foul and another two off a technical.
“It’s just huge, senior leadership and couldn’t be happier that a kid like Craigen was able make plays down the stretch like that,” Lisath said.
The Farmer boys, Zach and Jeremy, combined for 21 points as the only two other Piketon players in double figures. Jordan West led the Indians with 15 points.
Will Howard, who finished with six points, is the lone senior on the Valley roster.
“We just talked to him about that, the intensity and determination that he brings every night, it’s just something that some of these younger guys have picked up,” Rolfe said. “They play harder defensively, they get after loose balls. They’re proud if they get a 50-50 ball where at the beginning of the season, that wasn’t the case.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valley 22 4 13 10 — 49
Piketon 9 14 7 25 — 55
Valley — Clark-Holbrook 3-1-7, Flowers 3-0-7, Rolfe 0-6-6, Shope 1-2-4, Howard 3-0-6, Brown 1-0-2, West 4-4-15, Dunn 1-0-2, Totals 16-13-49.
Piketon — Brabson 3-0-6, Williams 3-1-7, Moore 5-8-19, Z. Farmer 4-2-11, Southworth 1-0-2, J. Farmer 4-2-10, Totals 20-13-55.
3-Point Goals — Valley 4 (West 3, Flowers); Piketon 2 (Moore, Z. Farmer).
Records — Valley 18-6; Piketon 21-3.