Braylon Damron (copy)

Vinton County’s Braylon Damron returns to the fold as one of four experienced starters for the Vikings, who have set their sights on a TVC and sectional title.

McARTHUR — One thing you can always count on with Vinton County is that it’ll finish with a winning record.

It’s been that way for the better part of the last two decades, and nothing about that appears as if it’s going to change.

However, this year, Vinton County hopes this is the year it springboards back into the Division II picture.

“We’re lucky to have a good amount of experience returning, and with the year we had last year, we expect good things,” Vinton County coach Matt Combs said. “Experience matters, and we were one possession away from potentially playing in districts last season and left some wins on the table, so that’s fuel to the fire as well.”

It has every chance and more to do that as four starters in Eli Radabaugh, Braylon Damron, Zayne Karr and Asa Davidson are back in the fold for the Vikings this season.

“Those four guys know what is expected from us, and they’re hungry to make their own mark on the program,” Combs said. “They’ve helped the young guys speed up and get adjusted to the varsity game. They’re great leaders, and we’re hoping it translates to the floor once game play starts.”

They’ll be joined in the lineup by Ashton Allman, adding more size to their front court and going them additional rebounding.

However, it’s off the bench where the Vikings lost a sizable punch with graduating their top three contributors.

But with guys such as Brayden Kane, Jack Davidson and Luke Bledsoe stepping up in those places, Combs is confident there won’t be any drop off in production at all.

“We feel really good about those guys coming off the bench to give him really good production,” Combs said. “There’s no hesitancy about our top eight guys at all. Our guys off the bench could probably start for any other school in the conference, it’s fortunate for us they’re on our side.”

Vinton County is used to being favorites to win the TVC, but that hasn’t been the case over the past few seasons.

But with experience, depth and size in their favor now, this could be the year they reclaim the throne atop the mountain.

“We let games get away and we blew chances to win it, so that’s our main focus is winning the conference,” Combs said. “I’d like to believe that we can stick our noses back into district action, but D-II is tough. That’s nothing new though, so hopefully we’ll be playing our best basketball in late January and can make a run.”

Vinton County began its season back on Friday with a 50-48 loss to Circleville in the Zane Trace Holiday Classic.

It’ll aim to rebound on Friday in non-conference action at Southeastern.

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