RIPLEY – Class AAA No. 5 George Washington (9-2) scored 26 points in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s MSAC matchup, breaking a deadlock and sending them to a 72-59 win over the Vikings (5-6). For Ripley, it was another example of the high-wire act that has played out for them so far during their conference schedule. When Ripley’s shots are falling, they can be handful for opponents, but when the offense goes cold, it makes for an uphill climb against some of the toughest competition in the state.
“It was that third quarter,” said Viking head coach Kevin Harris, “They got on a good run. Defensively, we did a nice job the rest of the game besides that third quarter. That was the difference in the game tonight.”
Prior to the third quarter, the Vikings stood up very well against a balanced, athletic Patriot squad. The Vikings employed a triangle and two defense that disrupted the Patriot offense early, not allowing them to get into a rhythm. Senior point guard Jamison Hunt was on fire in the first quarter, knocking down four three pointers as Ripley led 21-19 after one.
Slowly but surely, the Patriots began to make use of their athleticism, using their quickness and size to get position underneath for rebounds and second chance baskets. The Patriots inched ahead after a Tracy Conliffe put back late in the second in which he secured three offensive rebounds before the basket, but Ripley managed to battle back and score five straight points to send the game into halftime tied at 34.
And then the Vikings fell off the high-wire in the third. The Patriots came out of the locker room on fire, building a double-digit lead as the Viking offense went cold. The Patriots outscored the Vikings 26-14 in the quarter, taking a 60-48 lead into the fourth.
Ripley’s offense continued to flatline in the fourth quarter, while the Patriots kept finding soft spots in the Viking defense to exploit. GW went up by as many as 13 points, while the Vikings’ frustration boiled over due to the physicality of the Patriot defense. Hunt took the brunt of the attack, as he and fellow senior Eli Casto were really the lone offensive factors for Ripley on the night. In the end, the Vikings simply could not dig out of that third quarter hole, ultimately losing 72-59.
After the game, Harris noted that the physicality that was allowed to occur wasn’t the reason for the loss, but it definitely played a role in the game.
“I thought the officiating was horrible,” Harris said, “You’ll probably never hear me say that again. It seemed like the whole game, the physicality on one end of the floor versus the other, I just thought it was really unfair to our kids what they had to play through.”
Hunt led all scorers with 26 points for the Vikings, including going 6-of-9 (66.7%) from three point range. Casto followed with 21 points and six rebounds. The only other Vikings score were senior Nathan Hall, junior Griffin Durst and sophomore Corbin Campbell, who each scored four points. As a team, Ripley went 20-of-41 (48.8%) from the floor, going 12-of-23 (52.2%) on two point shots and 8-of-18 (44.4%) from long range. The Vikings also made 11-of-13 (84.6%) from the free-throw line.
Five Patriots were in double-figures, led by Alex Cook’s 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Mykael Brown scored 14 points, while Conliffe, Matthew Cook and Traevon Isabell each tallied 11. Conliffe also pulled down nine rebounds on the night.
GW shot 29-of-56 (51.8%) from the floor, a majority of which came on the inside where they shot 24-of-48 (50%). The Patriots also held the rebounding advantage 29-22 and forced 16 Ripley turnovers.
“I thought we had a good game plan coming in,” Harris said, “It’s very difficult when you’re playing a team that’s as well-coached and athletic as GW is. Honestly, I was proud of our effort. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and keep working to get better.”
Ripley returns to action tonight at home against South Charleston. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.