HILLIARD — In a year that saw them bounce back from a mid-season slump to claim the Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship, the Teays Valley Vikings couldn’t keep that momentum going in the postseason as they fell 41-30 at Hilliard Davidson.
“Midseason we weren’t playing very well and a lot of times when you get in situations like that some guys will fold it up. These guys came closer together,” TV coach Doug Etzler said, talking about the seven seniors that led the Vikings this season. “They just basically leaned on each other, trusted each other and believed in what we were doing.
“We had eight straight league wins down the stretch. We took each game as a championship game. The way they prepared and the execution they had when they needed it, this is a special group.”
Taking on the No. 6 seed Wildcats (19-5) in the Central District Division I tournament proved to be a battle as Davidson used its size to get to the boards – grabbing 10 offensive rebounds in the first half.
“Every time it’s an OCC opponent it’s always physical,” TV junior Reily Weiss said. “There were some things defensively we could have done better. The toughness plays were there, we just didn’t make enough of them.”
Even with the Wildcats getting to the offensive boards, they led only 10-8 after the first quarter and 19-15 at halftime.
“We knew coming in to it with their size it was going to be a tough matchup. I don’t think we did a bad job, but it was the second shots that hurt us,” Etzler said. “It’s an easy thing as a coach to say you’ve got to box out and go win the battle. It’s tough sometimes when you’ve got big, physical and two or three inches on you to get it done.”
The Wildcats extended the lead to 31-25 after three periods.
The HD lead was 34-25 when senior Brodie Booth nailed a three-pointer with 2:11 to go in the game.
That was as close as TV could get the difference as Davidson hit seven of eight free throws in the final 62 seconds while the Vikings added only two free throws from senior Ryan Wolfe.
The free throws gave Wolfe six points on the night, his second lowest scoring total of the season.
“They did as good a job as anybody has done on Ryan all year,” Etzler said of the senior who wraps up his time with Vikings having scored 1,040 points. “It puts you in a different mindset offensively when the guy you’re counting on is really getting guarded.
“I thought our guys did a good job and stepped up. They hit some big shots for us in the first half and Brodie hit a big shot for us in the second half. That’s what it takes to be successful. It wasn’t enough but I’m proud of the way our guys played tonight.
“It’s tough to ever come to the end of something. This group (of seniors) has been a great junior high team, a great freshman team and they just strive to be successful.”
Booth and Weiss each led the Vikings with eight points, senior Davis Gothard and Wolfe each had six and senior Max Young had two to go with a team-high seven rebounds. Gothard pulled down five rebounds.
Davidson senior Jacob Drees led his team with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Along with Booth, Gothard, Wolfe and Young, TV also graduates Jacob Blackburn, Tanner Kendig and Austin West.
“I’ve always played with them since travel ball as a little kid. They’re a special group,” Weiss said. “For the program, for the team, they were everything for us – they helped us get to where we are today.”
Hilliard Davidson 41, Teays Valley 30
Teays Valley — Young 1-0-1, Booth 3-0-8, Gothard 3-0-6, Weiss 4-0-8, Wolfe 2-2-6. Three-point goals — Booth (2). Total — 13-38 2-5 30.
Hilliard Davidson — Royer 3-1-7, Drees 3-7-13, Stimmel 2-0-5, Keys 3-2-8, Felicetty 1-0-2, Gillilan 2-2-6. Three-point goals — Stimmel. Total — 14-42 12-18 41.