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Valley tops Hornets

PEDRO — What do you get when you put the heart of a lion inside a hornet?

The Coal Grove basketball team.

Heading into Tuesday’s Division III sectional tournament game, the Hornets were 0-20 and the end of their season waiting in the near future. During the course of the game, they found themselves behind by 12 points.

They came back.

They fell behind by 13 and came back. And so it went.

Coal Grove kept battling back and battling back before the Lucasville Valley Indians were finally able to put the Hornets away with a 74-58 win.

“That’s the way it’s been going all season,” Hornets coach Mike Waller said. “We get behind and then we have to fight so hard to get back in the game. We just could never get over the hump.

“But give our kids credit. They have played hard and battled all year long. They have the heart of a lion. They just won’t quit.”

Zach Murphy had 18 points to lead the Hornets. Adam Bare added 14 points and 8 rebounds while Tyler Branch scored 13 points and Chris Dirling grabbed 8 rebounds.

Isiah Keller had 24 points to lead Valley into Saturday’s 3 p.m. sectional title game against Ironton.

Mike McClain got 12 points and Greg Cunningham and Chuck Gregory scored 11 points each.

Two foul shots by Murphy and a 3-pointer by Dirling gave Coal Grove a 5-0 lead. But Valley stormed back to take a 15-5 lead and was up 17-9 at the end of the quarter.

The Indians were up by 13 points twice in the second quarter and it was 33-21 at the break.

Murphy hit two 3-pointers and Bare got a layup as Coal Grove got within 33-29 to begin the second half.

Valley went back in front 42-32 on a 3-point play by Cunningham before a 10-footer by Murphy and layup by Branch made it 51-47 at the end of the quarter.

But the Indians were 11 of 17 from the line in the fourth quarter and outscored the Hornets 23-11 to pull away to the win.