SEAMEN — Just to put any and all questions to bed, Vinton County is officially tournament ready.
Matter of fact, it’s been tournament ready since its victory over Fort Frye. But it wanted one final test to end the regular season.
The Vikings made the long haul to North Adams, and dominated the Green Devils is every facet as they earned a 47-35 victory on Monday.
“This was one of the best team performances we’ve had all season,” Vinton County coach Rod Bentley said. “Playing such a quality team on the road and performing the way we did, it was possibly our best overall game. What a way to end the regular season.”
North Adams provided Vinton County with a physical challenge inside the post featuring standout forward DeLaney Harper, something the Vikings have struggle with at times.
Although Harper still finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, she couldn’t keep Cameron Zinn off the boards.
Zinn’s relentlessness combined with her athleticism showed to be too much to handle as she finished with 13 rebounds alongside nine points.
“Cam has a motor that will rival anybody in the state of Ohio,” Bentley said. “She just never stops and gives you consistent energy on every play. Combine that with her athleticism and her ability to do just about anything on the court, it’s what makes her such a special talent.”
“We know that once the tournament starts, we’re going to more post players than we did in the regular season,” Zinn said. “Even though we’ll still struggle a little bit since we don’t have a true post player, it’s a team thing. Morgan (Bentley) did a great job on (Harper), we fronted her at times, played behind her as well and just mixed it up.”
Vinton County never trailed in the game, and its lead only slipped into single digits once in the third quarter.
Part of that was due to hitting timely shots, but the other part was forcing 26 North Adams turnovers on the evening.
“Did we really? That’s pretty incredible,” Zinn said, slightly shocked. “Last week against Alexander, we had a terrible defensive performance so we worked out a lot of things over the past week of practice. It just came down to keeping our position, staying in front at all times and talking.”
The Vikings shot 3-of-22 in the first quarter, Morgan Bentley and Tegan Bartoe each connected from distance while Lacie Williams converted a putback.
However, the Vikings forced 11 Green Devil turnovers in the opening eight minutes to lead 8-2.
North Adams cut the lead down to 10-6, but that was as close as it got for the rest of the night. Zinn, Bartoe, Williams and Myriah Davis all combined to go on a 14-2 run to end the half with a 24-8 lead.
“This was all about the girls. We didn’t have a ton of film to study or anything on North Adams, but the girls just wanted it,” Bentley said. “They took it upon themselves to do the fundamental things defensively and I’m proud of them.”
North Adams attempted a comeback with a 10-3 run to open the third as Harper and Braylie Jones knocked down shots, which cut the lead down to 27-18.
But it was to no avail as the Vikings answered back with a 7-2 run to end the quarter, capped by a triple from Davis to go back up double digits and cruise to victory.
“This was a great experience for us against a team who was in a regional final last year,” Bentley said. “Quality teams like North Adams are who we’ll see in the tournament so it’s a valuable win.”
In addition to Zinn, Davis finished with a game-high 16 points, followed by 12 points from Bartoe.
Vinton County opens tournament play on Thursday, February 18 in a Division II sectional final at home against the winner between Athens and Gallia Academy.
Vinton County: 8-16-10-13
North Adams: 2-6-15-12
Vinton County: 17-55 FG, 7-18 FT, 6-23 3pt., 30 rebounds (Zinn 13), 9 turnovers, 8 assists (Zinn 3). Scoring: Davis 16, Bartoe 12, Zinn 9, Bentley 5, Williams 5.
North Adams: 11-35 FG, 10-14 FT, 3-14 3pt., 34 rebounds (Harper 11), 26 turnovers, 4 assists. Scoring: Harper 10, Shipley 8, Kendall 8, Braylie Jones 3, Kenlie Jones 3, Hupp 2, Buttelwerth 1.