Vikings Ousted From Playoffs By Fairland

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With time expiring in Thursday’s Division II district semifinal, Vinton County Head Coach Matt Combs looked at the ground, then the clock and then finally at his seniors on the court for the final time.

With 57 seconds remaining, Combs subbed out seniors, Jake Speakman, Naylan Yates and Bryce Dameron, three players who played a key role in a Viking dynasty that produced three-consecutive TVC-Ohio titles.

Vinton County’s reign may have came to an end at the Convocation Center in Athens on Thursday night as the Vikings fell to Fairland 64-45.

“They’re gonna be a really tough bout for whoever has to play them,” Combs said.  

The Vikings season, which was filled with adversity, ends with a record of 16-8.  Coming into 2017-2018 with high hopes, after advancing to last year’s Elite Eight, an early playoff exit was unexpected, but Fairland made sure it was inevitable.

The Dragons seized control of the game early by using the 3-pointer as their main weapon. Fairland went 5-for-9 in the first half from beyond the arc, and then shut down Vinton County leading scorer, Jake Speakman, keeping him scoreless in the first half.

The Vikings headed into the locker room trailing Fairland 37-24 and never recovered.

Fairland proved to be too deep for Vinton County in the second half, five Dragons reached double-digit scoring totals while Vinton County struggled to get production out of its main scorers. Speakman, who started contributing to the scoring column in the second half, finished with eight points.

Naylan Yates, who led the Vikings scoring, finished with 14 points.

“We needed everyone tonight,” Yates said. “We needed to play a complete game and that didn’t happen.”

Despite a disappointing conclusion to the 2017-2018 season Vinton County senior class still left an unforgettable legacy in MacArthur. The 2018 senior class went 75-24 in four years, capturing three TVC-Ohio Conference titles, three sectional titles, and two district titles.

“We’ve been together forever,” Yates said. “ This group is very special. It’s tough leaving this.”