Third-quarter spurt propels Blacklick Valley boys over Turkeyfoot Valley for WestPAC crown

Feb. 18—One small adjustment in the Blacklick Valley offense proved to be the difference in Saturday's matchup with Turkeyfoot Valley.

The Vikings smoothly transitioned from their normal inside-heavy offense to a 3-point barrage, leading to a key third-quarter spurt that helped carry Blacklick Valley to a 67-58 victory over the Rams at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center.

Blacklick Valley earned its second WestPAC championship in program history, joining the 2018 Vikings squad that hoisted gold following an overtime victory over Shade.

"It feels very good to be back here again," Blacklick Valley coach Garry Wurm said. "It's tough to get back here sometimes, and we knew it was going to be a battle. We were originally going to go with a high-low offense to try and get some baskets in the post, but they forced us outside.

"We switched up the play calling and our guys adjusted very well. We knocked down a lot of perimeter shots and that became a very big factor for us. I'm very proud of the guys and the effort they gave. They deserved this."

Blacklick Valley held a slim 33-31 advantage coming out of halftime until Turkeyfoot Valley's Bryce Nicholson, who scored a game-high 28 points, tied the game with a layup.

The Vikings answered with an 11-2 run that opened up a 44-35 lead. The advantage grew to as many as 10 after Blacklick Valley made six of its first seven shots of the quarter, including four 3-pointers.

Blacklick Valley would never lose the lead, which grew to as many as 16 in the fourth quarter.

"We knew coming into the game we had to shoot well to be successful," said Vikings senior Alex Reba, who led Blacklick Valley with 19 points and five 3-pointers. "All of our guys got hot today, especially from behind the arc. That carried us. It's a great feeling to get the gold medal, but the job's not done. We still have to keep pushing."

As a team, Blacklick Valley knocked down 10 treys, the sixth time this season the Vikings reached double digits from long range.

Junior Greg Schilling provided a big spark for the Vikings off the bench, scoring 16 points with four 3-pointers. Gino DiPaolo also recorded 16 points.

"He's been like that all year with hitting the long-range shots," Wurm said of Schilling. "He's a very tough sixth man. He hit a lot of big shots for us today and did a great job."

Schilling's final triple of the game early in the third quarter kicked off the run that put Blacklick Valley ahead for good.

"It's a big role," Schilling said. "I do my best to fill it for the team and knock down the big shots when I can. You have to know your role and be able to do your job when you're called. That's why we're successful and that's why we won."

Blacklick Valley's defensive pressure also helped the Vikings pull away in the third quarter.

The Vikings held the Rams to a combined 6-for-21 mark from the floor in the second half, while forcing 12 of Turkeyfoot Valley's 20 turnovers in the final two quarters.

The Rams closed the gap to nine on two occasions in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings recorded 15 of their 17 fourth-quarter points from the free-throw line to stay in front.

"They definitely did apply the pressure," Turkeyfoot Valley coach Eric Swank said. "My hat's off to them on that. With this big court, it's tough to press, but they did it well. We lost a ball handler due to foul trouble, and they definitely took advantage of that."

Turkeyfoot Valley dipped to 18-5 on the season, with two of the defeats coming to Blacklick Valley. The Rams will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming District 5 Class 1A playoffs.

"We'll be ready to go," Swank said. "We're going to be back on our home court and we plan to apply the pressure on whoever we play. Hopefully we can get to the District 5 title game."

The No. 6 seed Vikings (15-8) are set to face No. 3 Williamsburg in the District 6 Class 1A quarterfinals Tuesday.

"We've got a tough matchup coming up," Wurm said. "They're all tough for us. We don't have a lot of time to prepare, but we're definitely moving in the right direction. We're happy with where we're at right now."