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Vikings win first district title

ATHENS – A steal and layup with 2:02 to play by Manchester’s Joey Darnell tied the Division IV district championship game at 49-49.

Monday, March 12, 2001

ATHENS – A steal and layup with 2:02 to play by Manchester’s Joey Darnell tied the Division IV district championship game at 49-49.

That was enough for Symmes Valley Vikings first-year head coach Alvin Carpenter to call a timeout and chat with his team. "I told them ever since we came to open gym in the summer, I’d hate to think we’d blow it in the last two minutes because we let someone outhustle us. We stepped it up on defense at the end."

Indeed the Vikings stepped it up as they scored five straight points after the timeout and went on to beat the Greyhounds 58-55 for the school’s first-ever district championship.

The Vikings (18-5) will play Reedsville Eastern at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, at the Columbus Fairgrounds just off Interstate I-71 in the regional semifinals.

Eastern downed Portsmouth Clay 63-48 in Saturday’s second game.

Drew Hunt, who finished with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer after the timeout and put the Vikings up for good at 52-49 with 1:49 on the clock.

Justin Myers was fouled and sank both shot for a 54-49 lead.

Darnell answered with a 15-footer, but Hunt hit two club foul shots with 57 seconds to go and the lead was back at five.

Darnell made two more foul shots and a layup by Justin Rigdon got Manchester within 56-55 with 18 seconds on the clock.

Hunt was fouled on the inbounds play and sank both free throws with 16 seconds left for a 3-point lead.

"I knew I could do it, but I was nervous," Hunt said. "We just got more aggressive at the end and started rebounding and playing good defense."

Grant Palmer missed a 3-point shot in an attempt to tie the game but got the rebound. He passed to Darnell who missed another 3-point attempt and Myers grabbed the rebound as the horn sounded.

Myers scored 26 points – 20 the first half – and grabbed 11 rebounds.

"Justin has always been a good athlete, but the last two or three weeks he’s really become a basketball player. He’s looking for the ball and really dominating. And our seniors have done a great job," coach Carpenter said.

Darnell had a game-high 27 points to lead Manchester (15-8). Palmer and Rigdon had 12 points each.

Symmes Valley led 16-11 after the first quarter and went up 22-16 on a layup by Myers with 4:32 left in the half.

But the Greyhounds got within 28-26 at the half as Rigdon nailed a 15-footer with 45 seconds on the clock.

An 11-2 run to start the second half stretched the Symmes Valley lead to 39-27 at the 4:40 mark. Darnell then drained two straight 3-pointers to cut the deficit in half.

Myers was saddled with his fourth foul at the 3:02 mark of the third quarter and did not return until early in the fourth quarter when Manchester cut the Vikings lead to 45-43.

"Everyone stepped up when Myers got four fouls," coach Carpenter said. "David Owens is always good for a couple of big shots, and Drew hit a big 3 at the end that got us away from that see-saw game."