Vikings Fall One Game Short of Final Four< < Back to
In the Elite Eight of Ohio high school basketball there will be wars, and today the Eastmoor Academy Warriors came, saw and conquered the Vinton County Vikings 69-48.
When looking at the Warriors and Vikings you must think to yourself, Could any two teams be more different? One team urban, the other rural. The Warriors, an hour and a half away in Columbus, carry a quiet business-like swagger as they show little emotion and are lead by stoic coaches dressed in their Sunday best. On the opposite side of the court, the TVC-Ohio champion Vikings from Macarthur, embrace and return the excitement and energy bestowed on them by an arena dominated by their hometown fans.
But it wouldn’t be the team’s differences that would decide who was moving on to the Final Four, but rather who could execute the fundamentals better and impose their will.
The game started off sloppy with both squads committing turnovers on their first possessions. However, the Warriors would find their footing first and engineer an unstoppable balanced offensive attack. Forwards Tim Smith and Tariq Brown, who finished with 16 and 14 points respectively, dominated in the paint and were the main reason for the Warriors’ 20 second-chance points.
In MacArthur though, they breed ballers and Eastmoor Academy would soon realize that Vinton County was no pushover.
The Vikings responded by pressing and challenging the over confident Warriors into one-on-one situations that consistently brought the crowd to its feet. Leading scorer Naylan Yates, would prove his legitimacy as a player and leader by dropping clutch three-pointers that kept his team in the game.
The Warriors though, are one of the most explosive teams in the state, and would prove that by going on a 15-3 run at the end of the half. The Vikings would go into the locker room down 13, the largest deficit they’ve faced this season.
The Vikings came out hungry and desperate to save their season, but no matter the problem they tried to create, the Warriors had the answer. Eastmoor Academy bullied Vinton County on the glass, out-rebounding them 33 to 19 and widened its lead to 16 entering the fourth.
With 8 minutes to the final four, and the Warriors in full control, the pocket of Eastmoor Academy fans were now louder than Vinton County. They started to mock the pro-Viking crowd with chants of “Why so quiet?” and “EASTMOOR!”
However, even in the face of adversity, the Vikings showed the heart and fight that got them to the Elite Eight, pressing and competing to the bitter end.
“I knew they would never quit,” coach Matt Combs said. “They are great role models.”
With the defeat assured, Combs took out his spectacular seniors who were gifted with a well-deserved standing ovation. A great way to end a season that resulted in back to back TVC gold and a district championship.
Eastmoor Academy rushed the court and celebrated the victory. However, coach James Miranda understands the job is not over.
“I’ve played the runner-up game, I don’t care for it,” Miranda said. “The kids deserve a state title.”
The Warriors will play the Waueson Indians March 23rd at the Schottenstein Center in the Final Four.