Zane Trace at Vinton County boys basketball (copy)

Vinton County’s Lance Montgomery is back for his senior year as the Vikings aim to take back the TVC championship and get back to district tournament action.

MCARTHUR — There’s a standard to uphold when it comes to Vinton County basketball, and it doesn’t intend on breaking tradition anytime soon.

For the last 15 plus seasons, one thing that can be counted on is that the Vikings are going to finish with a winning record.

Although they didn’t make it to district action for the second straight season, those lessons learned are hoping to pay off this season.

“Despite having a solid season, we learned a lot of hard lessons,” Vinton County coach Matt Combs said. “We did a good job of beating teams we should have, maybe even won a game or two against teams that were more talented than us. But we struggled against the elite teams physically. We’ve made it a point of emphasis to get back in the weight room and become a stronger, more physical team.”

The Vikings are a more experience group this year, however, it’ll move forward this year without the services of Aaron Stevens, Will Arthur and Gavin Arbaugh, who was their leading scorer.

On the flip side to that though, Lance Montgomery, Braylon Damron, Zayne Karr, and Eli Radabaugh all either started or logged heavy minutes, and return to the lineup this year.

“Lance is a three-year starter and it has to be his time now to step into that go-to scorer role when we need a bucket,” Combs said. “Braylon and Zayne are both hard nosed players who can hit shots and play solid defense as well. Eli has made a lot of progress and he’s sort of our one true point guard and we’re going to lean on him a lot this year.”

Alongside those four players are also players like Brock Hamon, Asa Davidson, Randall Mattison and Boomer Herald to provide depth alongside with the ability to play in the post as well.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had a true post player, but Asa and Boomer can give us that presence this year,” Combs said. “Boomer is a big, strong physical player who can hold his own against big players. Asa is a taller, more athletic player who can crash the glass and get those second chance points for us.”

“At times, we played four sophomores last season and they definitely endured some growing pains, but gained experience at the same point. This is probably the most experienced group I’ve had in the last couple seasons, which has us excited for this season. Those guys now have an idea of how to handle moments of uncertainty and know now not to pain in certain situations.”

Vinton County’s schedule gives it a little more wiggle room after teams like Zane Trace and Chillicothe graduated their most successful classes in recent memory.

However, it also still faces Jackson and Waverly, who is reloaded after a district semifinal appearance last season.

But still yet, the TVC is a little more open with Alexander and Athens graduating some key players while a team like Meigs can light it up on any given night.

Either way, the TVC title and a return to the Convocation Center in Athens for district action is what the Vikings are after this season.

“Year in and year out, that is always our goal,” Combs said. “From what I’ve seen so far in our scrimmages is that we’re a lot tougher and can compete with more physical teams. We have to be able to compete fire with fire at times, but also have to share the basketball much better offensively. Our strength and conditioning in the offseason is really going to show this season and I like what our possibilities could be.”

Vinton County opens its season on Saturday at home against Greenfield McClain.

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