CENTERBURG — It was not the way that any team wants to end a season. For the Highland Fighting Scots, who lost their Division II Central District Sectional opener to Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference rival River Valley, 43-26, it was a nightmarish Tuesday.
“Obviously, it was a very frustrating night for us,” said Highland coach Mike Hoyng. “We just didn’t have anybody step up and play. We were just not very good tonight.”
The Vikings jumped ahead, 7-0 and went to work on defense. It got worse from there as the Scots were only 3-for-10 from the floor and 3-for-8 from the foul line in the first half.
River Valley’s top scorer, Bo Keener, had a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) and provided the lift that his team needed on both ends of the floor. The Scots, who had 22 turnovers to the Vikings’ 16, could never really get anything going as it all seemed to slip away.
The Scots managed 24 rebounds to the Vikings 26 for the game. Center Ethan Zuber (3-for-5 field goals, six points) led Highland with seven rebounds. Teammate Matt Stooksbury (three points, two steals) added five. The problem was anemic (10-for-31) shooting, which affected the entire Highland team. Guard Kyle Cremeans led the Scots in scoring, hitting a trio of 3-pointers for nine points.
“We didn’t play well defensively, we didn’t play well offensively,” said Hoyng. “When you do that against anybody, you won’t be very successful. I don’t know why. I felt confident, going into this game that we could play a good game against them, but we surely didn’t and I have no answers. We just didn’t execute. We just weren’t there.”
Even when Cremeans, in his final game as a senior, hit his third 3-pointer to get the Scots within seven points, 29-22, early in the fourth, he fouled out on the next play and was no longer a factor. Shortly after Zuber hit a shot and then, junior wing Nick Godfrey hit another to close the gap to 30-26. Unfortunately for the Scots, Godfrey was suffering from the same cold shooting as the rest of his teammates and couldn’t convert on the ensuing foul shot, which would have cut the Vikings’ lead to three.
Instead, the Vikings got the ball back and got a 3-pointer from their 6-foot-4 freshman Nick McCleese, but that was the way the whole evening went for the Scots.
Along with Cremeans, seniors Andy Hein, Greg Deckling, Dylan Gonzalez and Will Carmickle all played their final game for the Scots.
“It’s too bad they had to go out this way, but there’s nothing we can do to change that,” said Hoyng. “They’re all quality kids. I’m sure they’re going to all be successful in life. They were great kids to coach and great kids to be around for four years. I hope they will be very successful in their endeavors and college and where ever they may go.”
River Valley advances to the Division II Sectional Final against No. 1 seed DeSales on Friday night.