JUNIOR HIGH SPORTS
BB 1A SECT. 55: #15 Blue River Valley dumps host Monroe Central, 58-43
March 2, 2011By E. Shawn Aylsworth of Monroe Central Jr.- Sr. High School
By E. Shawn Aylsworth
PARKER CITY – Just 19 days after watching Monroe Central senior Logan Thomas burn them for 38 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and five steals, Class A 15th-ranked Blue River Valley pulled a relative shutout on arguably the state’s most all-around player in a 58-43 victory that opened Sectional 55 play – at Monroe Central.
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By hounding the talented 6’1” Thomas every time he tried to penetrate toward the bucket with their quickest player, junior guard Kevin Kountz, the Vikings (15-6) did themselves a huge favor in forcing the other Golden Bears to beat them from long-range while dominating the glass.
The one-and-done routine culminated in a second half that saw Monroe Central (11-10) convert only six baskets – three apiece in the third and fourth quarters. The Golden Bears finished a woeful 4 of 27 (15 percent) from behind the 3-point line and were just 13 of 47 (28 percent) overall in scoring 20 points below their season average.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Thomas picked up his second foul less than three minutes into the contest, earning him some extensive time on the bench alongside fourth-year Monroe Central coach Jeremy Duncan.
Meanwhile, the Vikings got the offense they needed from senior forward Jared Lawrence (12 first-half points) and junior forward Kyle Gross (17 overall, including 13 in the decisive second half) to pull away from a tight clash through three periods of play.
Gross, in particular, was effective in a number of ways after halftime, scoring on a 3-pointer, free throws, a breakaway dunk, a strong drive to the hoop, and even a putback of his own miss that slammed the door shut at 54-41 with only a minute remaining.
Blue River Valley also took advantage of the frigid Monroe Central shooting by converting from the free throw line, where they hit nine of their first 10 in a fourth quarter that saw them outscore the Golden Bears 24-14.
Kountz and the rest of the Vikings’ defense limited the shot attempts of Thomas, the state’s fifth-leading scorer at 26.2 points a game who also averages 10.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists per outing. Remember, this is a kid who destroyed Daleville in the season’s second game to the tune of 41 points, 20 boards, and 10 assists in a 91-38 victory.
No small feat by Blue River Valley, which broke a three-sectional losing streak to the Golden Bears (including the last two for the sectional title). And it was an impressive turnaround from the 66-64 overtime loss the Vikings suffered on this very floor Feb. 10.
Senior Aaron Knupp joined Lawrence (a game-high 19 points to go with a game-high 12 boards) and Gross (10 rebounds) in double figures with 11 points for the Vikings, who advance to face 6-13 Union (Modoc) in Friday’s first semifinal at 6 p.m. ET. The winner there will face either Union City (7-12) or Tri (2-18) in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game.
Thomas finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists to lead Monroe Central, which also got 10 points from senior Rhett Braun.