by Gregg Meadows
Coach Todd McLoughlin’s Tri-Valley boys basketball team didn’t get caught looking ahead to a hoped for shot at No. 1 seed Meadowbrook, as the Dawgs took care of business Wednesday night at the Eastern District Division II district semi-final at Cambridge High School, dispatching seventh-seeded St. Clairsville by a 69-48 count.
With the win, Tri-Valley – now 19-5 – advances to Saturday night’s district final vs the top seeded Colts (22-3), who dismantled Claymont 66-26 to reach the title game, which will be played at Muskingum University with a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.
In the St. Clairsville win, the Red Devils provided some stiff competition for the Scotties in the early going, with several lead changes between the two teams in the first quarter, before the Scotties took a slim 15-14 lead ahead to the second period. Scottie sophomore Luke Lyall’s trey and baseline jumper for five points led TV in the first frame, while Ty Smith converted a pair of layups for four points, Keaton Williams a traditional three-point play, and senior leading scorer Skye Bryan a trey as well.
Second stanza action saw scrappy St. Clairsville edge ahead of the Dawgs in the first few minutes of the period, as the Red Devils owned a brief 18-15 lead before Tri-Valley got going in a big way, as Scottie guards Ty Smith and Skye Bryan took control of the game – on both ends of the floor – leading a 10-0 run and combining for 13 of the team’s 16 second period points, while turning up the pressure on defense as well to create Red Devil turnovers into points. Smith struck for nine points in the quarter and Smith four, helping the black and gold to a 31-23 halftime lead.
The Scotties couldn’t quite shake completely loose from St. Clairsville in the third quarter of district semi-final action, and despite seven Skye Bryan counters and three points each from Jalen Goins-Chandler, Keaton Williams, and Jack Lyall, took a less than commanding 49-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
But as the saying goes, the Scotties ‘put the pedal to the metal’ in the final eight minutes of play, outscoring the Red Devils 20-9 in the fourth quarter, to win going away, 69-48.
Keaton Williams and Skye Bryan led the fourth frame fireworks for the Dawgs, scoring eight points apiece with Jack Lyall adding his final four counters as well.
Skye Bryan led the winners in scoring with a game-high 22-point effort, getting double-figure help from Keaton Williams with 17, and Ty Smith with 15. Will Balgo’s 11 points and ten from Drew Sefsick led St. Clairsville, who exited the tournament trail with a 13-11 record on their season.
Tri-Valley and Meadowbrook share common opponent wins over Zanesville, John Glenn and Philo for the 2019-20 regular season. Scottie head coach Todd McLoughlin knows the highly-touted and top-seeded Colts will be a huge challenge for his team, noting their size, good guard play, and experience; Meadowbrook was a final four contestant just two seasons ago.