RIPLEY - For the second game in a row, Ripley's Casy Smith put on a fine display of marksmanship but on this night, it wasn't quite enough as the Vikings fell to Princeton High (11-3, 7-3 MSAC), 65-55 to a sparse crowd at Ripley Health Center on Tuesday night.
Smith hit the game winner on Saturday versus Mingo Central on the road and appears to be heating up as Ripley comes down the home stretch of his senior campaign. The scrappy guard is the fifteenth leading scorer in the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
Coach Craig Harmon's crew played very efficient basketball on this night and it kept them close to a team that had a distinct size advantage, especially in the post. The Vikings committed only six turnovers, their lowest on the season.
Ripley (5-9, 1-7 MSAC) had trouble stopping back door cuts to Hunter Walters and 6-6 post-man Aaron Ferguson. Sleboda did a fine job of containing the big man (seven points, 10 boards) but the Vikes were burned by him twice down low on nice cuts to the basket when the home team was trying to make a run late in the game.
Sleboda rejected a shot from the big man, drawing chants of "Chuuuuuck" from the Viking student section, better know as The Mob.
In game action, Smith scored seven points in the first quarter to lead Ripley to a 16-14 lead. A 34-26 Tiger advantage was on the scoreboard at the half, largely due to Ripley's poor perimeter shooting in the quarter creating easy buckets on the other end in transition.
Ripley fell behind by 19 in the third and it looked like the Vikings of December were rearing their heads. In reality, that couldn't be farther from the truth.
The team fought hard and it was clear to everyone in the building that the effort was there but the rim on this night was a cold, hard tool of denial as the Vikes shot hot and cold to the final buzzer.
The teams played to a 17-17 stalemate in the final period, despite Ripley shooting 35% in the quarter to Princeton's 50%.
Kade Harrison had moments of brilliance as usual but had trouble overall getting his shots to fall on this night. Jacob Haynes dished out six assists but also was hot and cold, hitting 2-of-7 of his 3-point attempts (29 %).
Drew Harpold drained two 3-point shots and continues to impress when he does shoot. Harpold can be very selective, to his credit.
With a blocked shot on this night, Kade Harrison has logged (26) on the season and is only three away from breaking Kyle Harpold's school record for blocks in a season with (28).
The junior is ten away from breaking Harpold's career mark of (50) established from 2007-2010. Kyle is Drew's older brother. Harrison, the MSAC's eleventh leading scorer added 15 points, Haynes eight and seven boards, Harpold six and seven boards, while Layhew and Sleboda had a point and a blocked shot each.