RIPLEY - They played with heart. They played with fire. They gave all the effort a coach could ask for. Somehow after leading 44-42 going into the fourth period, Cabell Midland went on a 32-13 run and squashed any hopes Ripley had of taking this game.
The Vikings were playing for a seventh place finish in the Mountain State athletic Conference.
Ripley seniors Casy Smith, Jacob Haynes, Chuck Sleboda, Cody Sanders and Austin Parsons were honored, along with their parents, prior to the game.
Coach Craig Harmon and assistant coach Steve Hunt presented the seniors with plaques engraved with action photos that quite frankly, were stunning.
The five elder statesmen all started the game on this night and quite frankly, played lock down defense and the Vikings led after a quarter, 12-8.
The offenses opened up in the second, and the game become physical with both teams sending bodies to the hardwood on more than one play.
Ripley freshman post player Luke Layhew asserted himself in the second period. He hit two free throws and scored on a nice reverse pivot in the paint over a Knights defender.
Cabell Midland (7-15 MSAC 5-13) led 25-22 at intermission but Ripley was clearly in this game and they seemed poised to put their seventh victory into the win column. The boys in Red had beaten Ripley, in Ripley Health Center, 55-46 in December.
Ripley (6-15 MSAC 2-13) has lost four in a row since defeating Capital on the road, 65-62 on January 30.
The Vikings battled in the third. While the officiating was content to let the teams play physical in the first half, the second half was a different story. Ripley was tagged for 26 personal fouls in the game while the knights were hit 16 times, including a technical on coach Matt Stead in the third.
Kade Harrison netted seven in the period and Chuck Sleboda six while Smith, Jacob Haynes and Drew Harpold all hit for trifectas in the quarter.
Junior Kade Harrison had two blocked shots, which gives him (49) in his career. If Harrison gets two more in Ripley's sectional contest, he will be the all time Viking leader with his senior season left on the horizon.
In the final period, Knights guard Sawyer Beckett began feasting in transition and Ripley had no answer while he dropped in one easy bucket after another. Coach Stead kept going to that well and he repeatedly came up with buckets of fresh drinking water as Midland pulled away and never looked back.
For Ripley, Kade Harrison finished with 17 and two blocks, Casy Smith netted 10 and three rebounds and a steal, Chuck Sleboda scored seven and six boards, Jacob Haynes had seven points, eight rebounds and four steals, Drew Harpold netted six with four rebounds and two steals, Cody Sanders had four, a rebound and a steal, Luke Layhew had four and five boards and Dylan Hall had two points and two rebounds.