Tegan Bartoe (copy)

Vinton County’s Tegan Bartoe has continued her sharpshooting ways, as the Vikings are out to a 5-0 start. The games against Wheelersburg, Fairfield Union, Alexander and Fort Frye in the coming weeks will give a small indication of how close Vinton County is to that elusive district championship.

COVID has prevented Vinton County girls from playing a full and complete schedule, but the Vikings are currently 5-0 on the season.

The shocking part isn’t that they are undefeated, it’s how they’ve looked in each game that is the most impressive.

They’ve won four of their five games by 49.3 points, and done so by turning relentless defensive intensity into points in transition.

“We’re playing for that district championship, and every night that we go on the floor, we are preparing and playing for that moment,” Vinton County coach Rod Bentley said after the team’s victory over Nelsonville-York last week. “Being there two years in a row, you realize that the defense is at a different level and the kids understand that.”

While three of those wins have come in TVC action and another one against a young Jackson team, the Vikings have also been challenged by hitting the road and defeating Warren, who played in a district final last season.

It’s clear through the first one-third of the season the Vikings haven’t lost any of their luster. But what’s truly helped them reached an added level is that they are completely healthy.

Remember, Myriah Davis missed the second half of last season after reaggravating a knee injury against Unioto.

She’s now 100 percent and playing as so, compiling games of 25 points against Jackson and 17 points against Nelsonville-York just as a small sample size.

“If she was healthy in the past two years, it might have been a different story in those district championship games. She’s that big type,” Bentley said. “She’s a special player, and she gives us so many more options. You can’t key in on just one player because we have too many options.”

Add on the fact Morgan Bentley is still ... well, Morgan Bentley and Cameron Zinn continues to show her versatility as quite possibly the best athlete in Southeast Ohio.

Lacie Williams and Tegan Bartoe are very capable ball handlers, on top of being snipers from distance.

Then, Rylee Ousley, Lydia Lenegar, Chloe Hayburn, Lydia Nichols and Ashley Bentley come off the bench and as they continue gaining experience, it seems the Vikings have all the elements to get it done.

Now that we are approaching the middle of the season, that also means Vinton County is entering the toughest part of its schedule.

In their next eight games, it’ll face the likes of Fairfield Union, Wheelersburg, who beat the Vikings last season, Alexander, and Fort Frye, who also beat the Vikings and won a Division IV regional championship last season.

Those four games are going to give a slightly better clue on if Vinton County is indeed ready for its moment in the spotlight, or if there’s still more work to be done.

“We know that we can score with anybody, that’s not a problem,” Bentley said. “But it all comes down to defense for us. We have to continue finding ways to be better, and better connected with our chemistry. We’re getting there, but it’s never a finished product.”

Either way, buckle up fans. This is going to be a fun ride.

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