Valley, Portsmouth Ralley For Semifinal Victories

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Valley 66, Coal Grove 65

Valley found a way to escape Coal Grove’s grasp late with a frantic finish that left them on top 66-65 in Saturday’s district semifinal.

“We have eight seniors they’ve been down this road before,” Valley coach Scott Rolfe said. “They didn’t give up. They always feel that they have a shot at wining the ball game and that’s what kept us in it. “

With Coal Grove up two late on No. 1 Valley, Hornet senior D.J. Miller took the rock looking to go coast-to-coast and extend his team’s lead when he was fouled by Valley’s Jordan West. Two free throws were assessed to Miller, but away from the play, Coal Grove’s Austen Pleasants was called for a technical that would award to shots to the Indians as well.

Miller sunk one of his two free throws. Valley senior Chris Flowers sunk both. Tie ball game.

The technical gave Valley the ball with a chance at a final shot. The Indians worked the ball inside to District Player of the Year Hayden Dunn who double-clutched a shot off the backboard to give Valley the lead with two seconds left.

On the ensuing inbound pass, Dunn fouled Coal Grove’s Sean Paulus which put the junior on the line and the Player of the Year on the bench with his fifth personal foul.

“I’m thinking if he makes them both, he and Bryan [Rolfe] are both out, we have to play the extra four minutes without two of our leaders,” Rolfe said.

Paulus sunk the first. His second sailed just right and time expired. Valley advanced.

“Give Coal Grove credit they played their hearts out,” Rolfe said. “They challenged us. In the first half we had our lead and then they wanted it more than us and the tides turned. They took it too us for a while but our guys stepped up and finished it out.”

Dunn led Valley on the afternoon with 21 points and seven boards. West finished with 17, scoring ten in the final frame.

There’s a reason he was selected as the district player of the year and there’s a reason Jordan has been All-District for two years in a row,” Rolfe said. “We’ve had some big games with our league and both of them have performed in those games.”

The Hornets were led by Miller who finished with 16 points and three assists.

Valley moves on to face Portsmouth Sunday at the Convocation Center with tip slated for 4:00 p.m.


Portsmouth 66, South Point 57

Portsmouth and South Point combined for 21 three-point shots in Saturday’s district semis. When the gun smoke cleared, the Trojans found themselves advancing to the district finals with a 66-57 win.

“These two teams made a liar out of me,” Portsmouth coach Eugene Collins said. “I told our guys traditionally teams don’t usually shoot it well their first time in the Convo. We’ve played in a venue similar to this earlier this year and shot well but I never would have guessed there’d have been as many threes made.”

Trojan guards Sky Oliver and Kyre Allison paved the way for Portsmouth combining for 43 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

“I told our guys yesterday when you get to this level everybody’s good,” Collins said. “Therefore your best players have to play good in order for you to win.”

After being tied at 39 at the break, the Pointers jumped out to an early second half lead behind their program’s all-time leading scorer, Brandon Barnes. The senior hit three threes in the frame to give South Point a four point lead heading to the fourth. 

In the final eight minutes, the guard trio or Oliver, Allison and senior Isiah Lisath put the Trojans up with 5:11 to play and never looked back. Portsmouth scored the last eight points of the game to push the Trojans on to the next round.

“We played them them earlier this year and they beat us by 18. That’s a good team,” Collins said. “We kept catching breaks. We’ve been in some tight games throughout the season so coming from behind isn’t something foreign to us.”

Marquise Foley led South Point off the bench with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Portsmouth will meet up with Valley at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday for the district finals at the Convo.

“I think these are the two best teams,” Collins said. “Unfortunately it’s not the regional finals, it’s the district finals. We’re ten miles apart. We played in the district finals a couple years ago. Their kids know us. We know them. I’m looking for a battle.”


Photos from Saturday's semifinal action from WOUB's Nick Bolin and Kaleb Carter