It was certainly a different game than the first time they met this season, but Teays Valley Christian had just enough game to hold off Sissonville on Thursday.
Cole Young had a key steal and basket in the final minute and Richard Fu knocked down a pair of free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining to lift the Lions to a 71-68 victory at Sissonville.
Andrew Breeding led Teays Valley (20-3) by scoring 21 points and Fu and Young came off the bench to also provide double figures with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
The Lions beat the Indians 79-51 on Dec. 3 — which counted as a game for TVC and a scrimmage for Sissonville — but Thursday’s contest bore no resemblance to that meeting, with nine lead changes and five ties.
Sissonville led 66-65 when Joseph Udoh, a 6-foot-9 exchange student from Nigeria, swiped the ball and got it to Dylan Griffith for a layup with 1:36 left in the game. Breeding then netted a pair of free throws to put TVC ahead for good 11 seconds later. That’s when Young swiped the ball near midcourt and sailed in for a layup and a 69-66 edge for the Lions.
The Indians cut it back to 69-68 when Brody Danberry scored with six seconds remaining, but Fu bumped it back to three with his clutch foul shots. A Griffith 3-pointer from the corner just ahead of the buzzer was partially blocked.
The presence of the athletic Udoh, who joined Sissonville six games ago, was a big reason the game script differed from the first time around. Udoh ended up with 20 points, 15 rebounds, four steals, two assists, two blocks and a dunk.
“I thought Sissonville played a lot more physical with us this time,’’ said TVC coach Jody Sowards. “We knew Ben [Pannell, Sissonville’s coach] would get these guys ready. They had more confidence with the big boy playing inside. He also affected a lot of my drives to the basket early on, just because of the intimidation factor. That did open up the outside jump shots for us early on, and we weathered their storm.’’
Teays Valley Christian was knocking down the 3-ball all night, hitting 11 of 23 from long range, with Breeding, Young and Fu all nailing three 3s. By contrast, Sissonville was just 2 of 22 from 3-point distance.
The Indians got a lot of high-percentage shots inside from Udoh and Brody Danberry (18 points, eight rebounds, four steals), converted 12 of 16 free throws and came up with a dozen steals. TVC was hampered by bad ball-handling, with 11 of its 18 turnovers coming in the first half.
“We put together three really good quarters,’’ said Pannell, Sissonville’s first-year coach, “but that second quarter just killed our energy, killed our spirit.’’
The Indians led 17-11 after one quarter, but fell behind 34-27 at halftime. Still, Pannell realizes that his squad has gotten better.
“One of the best things about our team this year,’’ he said, “is that they’ve really grown and developed every day, and this is testament to it. We lost to them by 28 in a scrimmage, so to come to this point and be in the game is a great thing for us.’’
Griffith added 13 points for Sissonville. Young, who didn’t start because of a sore ankle, hit all six of his shots for TVC and had three steals.
“We knew it would be a battle tonight,’’ Sowards said. “Win or lose, I thought our guys played hard, played tough. We executed, we defended pretty well and I thought we rebounded pretty well tonight. Kudos to Coach Pannell. I’ve known him since he was a young kid and he’s got a bright future here. He works these guys hard and they’ve improved a lot. I told him that.’’