by Gregg Meadows
Coach Todd McLoughlin’s Tri-Valley boys basketball team could have put the clamps on an outright Muskingum Valley League ‘Big School’ division title with a win Friday night, Feb. 5 at Sheridan.
Back on Dec. 18 in Dresden at The Dawg House in ‘TV vs Sheridan Round One’, the Scotties led at every break in posting a big 58-49 early-season ‘Big School’ win over the Generals. And despite a pair of conference losses to small school powers – Morgan and Meadowbrook – and three non-league setbacks to a trio of central Ohio cage powers, the Scotties were still unbeaten in the big school division.
But host Sheridan dominated the Dawgs from the second quarter on in the much-anticipated ‘Round 2’ battle between the perennial conference powers, and when the dust had cleared, were owners of a 75-41 shellacking of the Scotties, as both teams left the floor with one loss in the big school division entering the final week of regular-season play.
The first quarter of action gave no indication of what was to come for the Scotties, who saw starters Ty Smith and Luke Lyall each drain three-point bombs and add a pair of fielders as well; balanced Sheridan got points from all five starters, but only led 14-13 at the first break.
But from that point on, it was all the host Generals, who outscored the Scotties by a whopping 61-28 margin in the final three quarters – including a 22-5 third-quarter blitz where Sheridan knocked down five long loopers from behind the arc (from four different players) and took a more than commanding 53-24 lead into the fourth quarter of play.
With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, Tri-Valley still scrapped away however, as talented TV freshman big man Erik Neal nailed a three-point jumper, then a two-pointer and charity toss for six points, sophomore Aaron Frueh added a trey and fielder for five points, and senior Caden King – who was saddled with early foul trouble – shook loose underneath for four points as the Scotties racked up 17 fourth frame counters. But Sheridan scored 22 points in the last eight minutes for the final 75-41 verdict.
Want balance? Sheridan had it, as the winners placed four of their five starters in double figures, with their ‘sixth man’ Logan Ranft hitting twin figures as well. Nate Johnson’s game-high 14 points and four second-half treys led the winners, while SHS’s Ethan Malone and Landen Russell added 12 counters each, and Ranft’s 11 and 10 from Reed Coconis rounded out the double-figure scorers. Sheridan starter Shay Taylor just missed joining the double-figure club with nine points.
For Tri-Valley, Luke Lyall led the Scotties with nine points, followed by Ty Smith and Erik Neal’s seven points, and six counters from Caden King.
The Scotties dropped the junior varsity contest as well – 56-37 to the host Generals JV squad. Jack Winland and Bennett Baker led Tri-Valley with 10 points apiece, followed by Chase Cameron’s eight, while the winning SHS reserves had Mason Morrison’s 17, 13 from Blaine Hannon and nine counters from Kyle Peters lead the way.
Twenty-four hours later, Scottie cagers boarded the bus again, this time for a Saturday night short ride north to neighboring River View. The Scotties defeated the Black Bears 66-47 back on Dec. 5 in Dresden in ‘Round One’ of MVL big school play, behind Luke Lyall’s 28 points. Round 2 of the old Tri-Valley vs River View rivalry was a near mirror image of the first, as the Scotties led at every break and rode the 20-point effort of Luke Lyall for a convincing – and near-identical – 67-47 win. TV senior talent Jakob Frueh joined Lyall in double figures with 15 points, while Erik Neal and Aaron Frueh added nine points and seven counters respectively for the winners. Zach Balo’s 14, Owen Emig’s 10 markers, and eight from Jordan Bryant led the Black Bears.
Scottie sophomores Jack Winland and Bennett Baker combined for 32 points with 16 counters each, and freshman Ashton Sensibaugh struck for 14 points, as Coach Chris Garber’s TV reserves fought off the host Black Bear JV squad for an entertaining 60-54 Scottie win. Slaten Samsel’s 14 and Mason Giffin’s 13 points led the host Black Bears.
With a pair of hoped-for conference wins this week over John Glenn and Philo in the 2020-21 regular season’s final few days, Coach Todd McLoughlin’s Scotties can secure a tie for the Muskingum Valley League’s ‘Big School’ division title with Sheridan (if the Generals finish on a winning note as well).
On Tuesday night, Feb. 9, the Scotties welcome the John Glenn Muskies to Dresden and The Dawg House.
Tri-Valley escaped ‘The Fish Tank’ with a 46-41 victory back on Jan. 30 in New Concord in Round One of ‘big school’ divisional play in a game that saw the Scotties trail at the first three breaks but fight tooth-and-nail for the win, at a venue where wins are always hard to come by for Tri-Valley. On Friday, the Scotties put the lid on the regular season with a trip to Philo. The Scotties defeated the Electrics 59-28 back on Jan. 23 in Dresden in ‘Round One.’
The OHSAA boys basketball postseason tournament draw was held on Sunday. The Scotties jump on the tourney trail on Wednesday, Feb. 24 as the D-II, East District, No. 6 seed and will host the John Glenn Muskies (No. 14 seed) in Dresden at The Dawg House with a 7:00 p.m. tip-off. The TV vs JG winner will play the winner of the third-seeded West Holmes vs. 11th seeded Maysville game on Saturday, Feb. 27 on the higher seed’s home court.