Sweet revenge: Darden, Tri-Valley outlast unbeaten Maysville
DRESDEN — Fans filed in from all corners, packing every nook and cranny inside Tri-Valley’s Dawg House for one of the season’s most highly anticipated games.
They did not leave disappointed.
The host Scotties and unbeaten, seventh-ranked Maysville partook in another Muskingum Valley League highwire act on Friday night, with the outcome not decided until the final possession.
Tri-Valley knew the situation too well — it was in precisely the same situation in a two-point loss last Friday at New Lexington. This time, Terrell Darden and the Scotties were the ones left standing in a 54-52 Big School Division win.
Darden’s two free throws with 21.7 seconds left and a big defensive stop proved to be the difference as Tri-Valley (11-6, 9-2 MVL-Big) snapped Maysville’s 16-game win streak. It also brought the Scotties within one game of the Panthers (16-1, 11-1) in the division with four league games remaining.
The 6-4 Darden scored a team-high 18 points and 6-4 lefty sophomore Max Lyall added 16 with a trio of second-half 3-pointers, serving as the driving forces on a Tri-Valley offense that scored on seven of its last eight possessions.
"We got down (41-38), but we kept our composure," Lyall said. "We are inexperienced — we haven't had too many people play varsity basketball. Their pressure was getting to us, so we just slowed down and kept our focus."
The atmosphere was a rare one, just like the one posed to Tri-Valley at New Lex, when the gyms were filled to near-capacity by halftime of the reserve games.
Lyall called it "a crazy atmosphere from the jump — it's the best atmosphere I've ever played in," adding that their focus was to slow down Panther stars Hayden Jarrett and Alex Bobb.
Jarrett scored a game-high 23 points with a 6-of-7 showing at the free-throw line, but he rarely was afforded an easy basket. The normally dead-eye Bobb was held without a 3-pointer on a night the Panthers hit only 4 of 23 as a team. Bobb still finished with 11 points and some key assists.
"We just played 'hands up' on defense and got a lot of rebounds," Darden said.
Despite their shooting woes, Maysville still managed a 41-38 lead after three straight layups in a 6-0 spurt late in the third. Momentum looked to be pointing firmly in the Panthers' direction.
Then Lyall hit another 3 to end the the quarter — and Tri-Valley's offense wasn't again stopped.
Walker's three-point play with 3:36 left, after a diving Scottie secured a loose ball off a rebound, triggered a stretch of points on six straight possessions. Six came from Darden.
Tri-Valley coach Todd McLoughlin, celebrating his birthday, said Walker's return from foul trouble was critical for his team in regaining the lead. Maysville had an 11-0 run in the third that erased a 24-17 halftime deficit.
"After they made their run, Jayden did a great job of settling us down and just being aggressive with his play," McLoughlin said. "I thought he did a nice job."
Despite this ominous turn, Maysville still found itself in a tie game after Cole Roberts' second 3 of the fourth tied it at 50 with 1:41 left.
It was still tied at 52 with :37.2 showing when Tri-Valley missed the front end of a 1-and-1. But Darden secured the rebound, and the Scotties called timeout to strategize.
Darden soon found himself at the line for two shots after being the beneficiary of a touch foul in the frontcourt with 21.7 seconds left. He sank both, leaving Maysville with a final chance to tie or take the lead.
The Panthers called their last timeout with :06.6 left after failing to get a shot. Jarrett got the ball up top and worked his way to the right wing, but he was met with heavy resistance. His forced 3 was partially blocked and came down in Connor Larimer's vicinity near the baseline, but the ball went out of bounds.
Maysville's impressive streak was over.
"They came out and doubled (Jarrett) and we didn't have a timeout," Maysville coach Dave Brown said. "He probably scored six or eight points on that tonight."
The loss avenged the Scotties' loss at Maysville, when the Panthers broke open a close game with a big run in the second half. Darden, Walker and other key players for Tri-Valley were still being indoctrinated to varsity-level play.
Unlike the first meeting, when its offense stalled for almost 10 minutes in the second half, Tri-Valley managed to right the ship with points on its final six possessions of the third quarter.
That continued into the fourth, with an emphasis on pounding the ball into the post to utilize their size. Maysville single-covered, leaving its smaller post players vulnerable.
That, shooting woes aside, was Maysville's downfall.
"When you get to this time of year in the league, and the other team gets to know the other team's tendencies and the scouting reports are spot on, it typically comes down to who makes the fewest mistakes," McLoughlin said. "We have teams who are similar in a lot of different areas. For us, we were able to make a few plays late. That was the difference."
Walker added nine points and Neal seven as Tri-Valley, which overcame 18 turnovers, was 11-of-17 from the field in the second half and 21-of-40 overall. The Scotties were 18-of-28 from the floor in the final three quarters, as they totaled 30 points in the paint.
"We didn't front the post real well," Brown said. "When you don't front the post and you've got 6-5 guys inside, they're going to hurt you."
It may not be the last the teams see each other — both are in next Sunday's Division II East District tournament draw.
While Maysville and New Philadelphia remain on pace for the top two seeds, the Scotties are firmly in consideration — given their strength of schedule — for the No. 3 seed with East Liverpool and Carrollton, among others.
Two teams will advance to what figures to be a loaded Athens regional.
"I still like where we are as a team," Brown said. "Obviously you don't want to lose a game, but hopefully this will focus us a little bit and we will continue to get better. It's a long season and we've won a couple close like this. I just keep telling the guys, it's 'so what, now what?'"
Gator Nichols' 3-pointer with five seconds left secured Maysville's 53-51 reserve win, a game that saw the Scotties miss a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired. Jordyn Watson had 16 points and Tyler Debolt 13 for the Panthers, while Kam Karns tallied 15 and Ryan Lamonica eight for Tri-Valley.
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This article originally appeared on Zanesville Times Recorder: Tri-Valley boys basketball outlasts unbeaten Maysville Panthers