Balanced attack

HAMBLETON – Class A, No. 7 Tucker County used a late run to defeat a gritty Petersburg team, 64-51, on Thursday night.

The Mountain Lions started with the first five points of the contest, but then Petersburg scored five straight to tie the game at five with 3:43 remaining in the first quarter.

The next five again went the home team’s way and Tucker County would end the first stanza with a 14-10 lead.

The Mountain Lions opened the second period with an 8-0 run to push the score out to a 22-10 lead, forcing Petersburg coach Phillip Canfield to call a timeout.

The session worked and the Vikings started to limit Tucker County’s opportunities on defense, which led to 3-point opportunities. Led by Ryan Vanmeter, Petersburg hit four straight treys to tie the game at 28-all with 1:07 on the first-half clock.

The Mountain Lions’ Ian Nichols scored on a trey in the final minute to give his team a slim 31-28 lead at halftime.

After the intermission, the Vikings again tied the game on a three-ball, and then Brian George hit a short jumper to give Petersburg its first lead, 33-31, with 6:40 left in the third.

Both squads went cold and the visitors held a slim 34-33 margin for the better part of three minutes.

Tucker County, meanwhile, began dominating the glass, but kept missing on point-blank shots.

Finally, after a tie at 34, Derek Zirk drove for a layup, and both Nichols and Austin Zirk would connect from long distance giving the Mountain Lions a 43-34 cushion with three quarters in the books.

The Vikings came back once again, however.

George started by scoring on a layup and hitting a free throw, and Vanmeter hit another shot from behind the arc to cut the deficit to three.

But a technical foul was then called on Petersburg after a controversial blocking call, and the subsequent free throws helped enable the Mountain Lions back to a double-digit lead at 51-40.

The Vikings started pressing and fouling after that but were never able to make much of a dent, and the lead swelled to 64-49 before a final Petersburg layup at the buzzer for the 13-point margin at game’s end.

Tucker County coach Tom Gutshall, who was injured in the fourth quarter when a player flew into the bench trying to save the ball, simply said, “I was happy with our defensive effort tonight, and we had four men with double figures on offense.

“It was a good overall win.”

Petersburg’s Canfield summed up his thoughts by saying, “They hit the boards a little better than us, got more second chance points and we didn’t execute on offense … that’s not a winning combination.

“They were also more physical and we weren’t prepared for it.”

The four players with double figures for the Mountain Lions were Austin Zirk with 16 points, Nichols with 15, Mitchell Mason contributed 14 and Derek Zirk finished with 14.

Vanmeter took game-high with 23 points for the Vikings.

The Mountain Lions (2-1) will remain home at 7:30 p.m. today to face East Hardy for PVC contest.

Petersburg will be idle until hosting its annual holiday tournament on Dec. 27.