- 1 of 2 Photos | View More Photos
A spirited game was played before a packed house when Sandy Valley traveled to Richmond Edison in a boys sectional basketball final.
A balanced-scoring attack and relentless defensive pressure were the keys to the Cardinals 54-40 win.
"I couldn't be happier for the players, especially the seniors," commented Head Coach Gary Offenberger. "We went on the road to the higher-seeded school in a very loud, hot, hostile environment and the boys played hard with composure and came out on top."
Bryce Kelly scored six first-quarter points as Sandy Valley jumped out to a 13-9 advantage.
The Cardinals slowly increased their lead in the second frame. Bryce Offenberger's jumper with two seconds remaining gave the visitors a 27-18 halftime advantage.
Sandy Valley scored the first eight points of the second half, and six straight points from Chad Neisel gave the Cardinals their biggest lead of the game, 39-21, with a little over three minutes to go in the frame.
Edison went on a 14-3 run over the next eight minutes to cut the lead to seven.
That would be as close as the Wildcats would get, as Sandy Valley connected on 10-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Neisel and Dan Bartholomew paced the way for the winners with 14 points each. Offenberger added 10 points and Kelly finished with eight.
"We started scouting back in January and felt that if we could get on Edison' line and in Martins Ferry or Rivers bracket, we liked our chances.
"We are getting better and we are very balanced," noted Coach Offenberger. "If someone keys on our bigs, the guards carry us and vice versa. And our bench is giving us quality minutes on both ends of the floor.
"The IVC has five sectional champs. The league definitely helps you prepare for the tourney.
"We traveled well as a community and can't thank our fans enough for their support."
Sandy Valley (13-10), the eighth seed, was to face third-seeded River in a district semifinal on March 7 at Steubenville High School.
The other half of the bracket features Garaway (#4) taking on Union Local (#12).
The two winners will battle for the district title this Friday, March 10, 7 p.m.