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Eastern rallies to end Vikings run

COLUMBUS – When point guard Brad Carpenter fouled out, there was still 4:02 to play and the Symmes Valley Vikings were ahead 44-42.

Wednesday, March 14, 2001

COLUMBUS – When point guard Brad Carpenter fouled out, there was still 4:02 to play and the Symmes Valley Vikings were ahead 44-42.

But the game was virtually over at that point as the Vikings began a series of turnovers that the Reedsville Eastern Eagles turned into points as they edged Symmes Valley 53-51 in the Division IV regional semifinals at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

"We played good ball, we just let things slip away," Vikings coach Alvin Carpenter said. "But give Eastern credit. They wouldn’t quit. It hurt when Brad went out. Their pressure hurt us more than anyone has all year."

The Eagles pressure forced 26 turnovers, 11 the fourth quarter as they outscored the Vikings 18-9.

It was a heartbreaking end to a historic run by the Vikings who were making their first-ever regional appearance. They also finished the season 18-6, the most wins in school history.

"The seniors played their hearts out. We couldn’t have asked any more from them. We were farther than anyone ever expected," coach Carpenter said. "If someone had told us at the beginning of the year we were going to make the regionals, we’d take that. If we had told anyone we were going to the regionals, they would have told us we were crazy."

The tournament run looked as though it might continue at least one more game.

The Vikings used a 13-0 run to build a 14-point lead. Justin Myers hit two straight short jumpers to close the first quarter and put the Vikings up 15-10.

Myers hit a 12-footer, two free throws, and a layup to start the second quarter and then J. T. Pierce drained a 3-pointer as the Vikings went up 24-10 with 5:21 left in the half.

But Eastern stormed back with 14 unanswered points to tie the game.

Joe Brown’s two foul shots started the run. Chris Lyons then got a steal and layup, Garrett Karr hit a 3-pointer, Matt Simpson came up with a steal and dunk, Lyons hit a trifecta, and Brown finished what he started with a baseline jumper at the 2:50 mark.

Brown’s layup put Eastern ahead 27-26, but Adam Corn nailed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds on the clock and the Vikings led 29-27 at the half.

"We got a big lead a couple of times and relaxed," coach Carpenter said. "When we held them to one shot, we made a run. When we let them have two or three shots, they made their run. You can’t let a good high school team have more than one shot."

Symmes Valley went on a 7-0 spurt to begin the second half and the lead went to 39-29 when Drew Hunt converted a 3-point play at the 5:30 mark.

The Eagles closed the gap to 42-35 at the end of the quarter on two free throws by Brent Buckley with 22 seconds on the clock.

Karr hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and Eastern began to turn up the pressure.

Myers got his fourth foul with 5:08 left and Carpenter picked up two quick fouls to force his exit from the game.

Brown hit 3-of-4 free throws and before Corn got a breakaway layup to give the Vikings a 46-43 lead. Lyons knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game and then Corn’s layup with 3:14 left gave Symmes Valley its last lead at 48-46.

Lyons tipped in a missed shot to tie the score and Karr hit a big 3-pointer for a 51-48 lead with 1:20 to go.

Lyons made the first of two foul shots on two separate occasions, the second with 19 seconds left for a 53-48 lead. Hunt’s 3-pointer got the Vikings within 53-51 with five seconds to go, but Eastern was able to run the clock out on the next inbounds play.

Myers led the Vikings with 21 points and nine rebounds. Hunt had 11 points and Carpenter had five assists, 10 rebounds, and two steals.

Brown scored 17 points to lead Eastern (21-3) which now plays Worthington Christian in the finals Friday. Lyons had 15 points and Karr 11.

The Vikings held a lopsided 36-21 advantage in rebounds.

"We’re disappointed we didn’t win, but I’m tickled for what the kids accomplished. And I can’t say enough about the fans. We had a great following all year," coach Carpenter said.