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Vinton County Lady Vikings Wellston Lady Rockets
(Molly Kennedy/WOUB)

Lady Vikings Move Onto District Finals in Hard-Fought Win Over Unioto

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Tensions were high at Southeastern High School on this chilly Thursday night for playoff basketball.

Three technical fouls and two fan ejections distracted from the physical play that was shown by both sides on the court. That style of play led to fouls, and they piled up very quickly on both sides.

The Lady Vikings have been here before.

The chance was there for the taking to move on to try and right the wrong in the District Finals a season ago, and Unioto was the only thing standing in their way.

These two played each other earlier on in the season. The Lady Vikings defense was smothering, leading to a hard-fought win over the Lady Shermans 52-41 back on Dec. 23 in Unioto. Before that game, both had combined records of 17-1 at that point, meaning it was no surprise to see these two square off, with a trip to the Districts Finals on the line.

And this game was a lot more of the same from that first battle, but the biggest strength for the Vinton County Lady Vikings (19-5) was on full display, in their gritty 53-46 Sectional Finals win over the Unioto Lady Shermans (18-5).

Their stout defense was in full effect from the opening tip with the team using effective double-teams to force bad shots and turnovers from the Lady Shermans, and Vinton County used a hot first quarter from sophomore Teagan Bartoe with seven points to take a 9-4 lead early on.

The second quarter saw two straight converted and-one opportunities by first sophomore Cameron Zinn, then by senior Josie Ousley, as the lead ballooned to 22-6. Unioto struggled to find an offensive rhythm with senior Emily Coleman dealing with early foul trouble. Vinton County continued to press and Zinn swatted two shots into the stands during the quarter to increase their lead 27-16 into the half.

The momentum was on the Lady Vikings side, but Unioto responded with a run of their own coming out of the half, using a 9-1 run to cut the lead to three in the middle of the third quarter, where Coleman found her shot, hitting two threes in a minute span. The Lady Vikes fought back, staying ahead by the end of the third quarter 36-30.

Then, the Lady Vikings slowed the pace to use up some clock, their defense regained its intensity, and the offense kept finding the bottom of the net. Then the closer came alive.

“I just acted like it was practice,” Teagan Bartoe said. “So I just calmed down and followed through.”

She would sink all four of her free throw attempts, clinching their trip back to the District Finals, where they will face the one seed in the Circleville Lady Tigers, where Bartoe knows the challenge ahead.

“We are gonna work hard and make sure we know the game plan.” Bartoe said. “Stop their bigs.”

The game is set for next Wednesday, Feb. 26, with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m.