PARKERSBURG – On a chilly, rainy night at Parkersburg's Memorial Fieldhouse, The Viking hoops squad of Ripley High were turned away with a loss to the Big Reds, 63-46 in front of a sparse crowd of basketball fans in attendance.
Memorial Fieldhouse is a local sports fan's dream. Parkersburg High does an amazing job of preserving the legacy of its athletic programs.
On this night, Ripley forward Kade Harrison was out of the lineup due to a minor foot sprain that he obtained in the Woodrow Wilson game two nights prior.
"It's nothing serious," said Harrison. "I went to the doctor and I should be back in the lineup Tuesday (versus Point Pleasant)."
Replacing the all MSAC selection in the lineup was senior Cody Sanders. Sanders in a fierce defender and brings a tremendous energy to the floor for the Vikings.
Early on, it was all Parkersburg. The Big Reds jumped out to a 25-7 lead late in the first on the strength of Viking turnovers and missed opportunities on second chances for Ripley.
Viking Coach Craig Harmon subbed some hungry sophores into the game late in the opening quarter. Justin McKown, Morgan Graves and Dylan Hall took the court and quickly made their presence known as Graves hit a beautiful 3-point bomb from the wing just in time to beat the buzzer as the quarter ended.
It was what the Vikings needed. The shot in the arm revitalized the team and they went to work chipping away at the Big Red's lead in the second quarter.
The Vikings (6-13 MSAC 2-11) got as close as 27-16 in the second period on the strength of post men Chuck Sleboda and Luke Layhew.
The quarter was highlighted by a slick no look pass inside from point guard Jacob Haynes who found Luke Layhew alone in the paint for an easy put in. Haynes has been visibly trying to do anything in his power on the floor to help his team to victory in this, his senior season.
Casy Smith has carried the scoring load for Ripley in recent games. Smith was (4-of-6) from 2-point range on this night.
It was clear that Parkersburg focused their defensive strategy to slow down the Ripley guard as Big red assistant coaches could be heard yelling, "Who has (number) three!" throughout the game.
There was a scare as Parkersburg's Trevor Britton took an accidental elbow to the face in the paint and appeared to hit his head on the floor. He was down for several minutes before being helped off of the floor. Britton was hot, scoring 10 points in the half but never returned.
Parkersburg led 38-22 at the half.
Smith began to heat up in the third and the Vikings would get as close as nine but it was not to be on this night.
Parkersburg went on a 16-11 run the final period to seal the deal.
For Ripley, Casy Smith had 13, Chuck Sleboda had 13 points and 10 boards for a double-double, Luke Layhew had a career high of nine, Jacob Haynes had five seven assists and Justin McKown and Morgan Graves netted three each.
The Vikings return to action tonight as they host Point Pleasant. The Big Blacks knocked off then AAA No.1 Greenbrier East last month and will be looking to avenge a season opening loss to Ripley on their home court.