RIPLEY, W.Va. — Ripley had difficulty getting stops in the first quarter of Tuesday’s home game against Point Pleasant.
Then the Vikings increased their pressure while picking up full court with a purpose.
The move paid dividends, with Ripley holding the Big Blacks to 30 points over the final three quarters, while also forcing all 17 of Point Pleasant’s turnovers during that stretch to remain unbeaten with a 75-47 victory.
“Our goal was to speed them up,” Vikings’ head coach Derek Mullins said. “Their guards are decent, but we thought we could speed them up to get them out of their comfort zone on the offensive end. That just led to more points for us.”
Both teams executed well offensively in the opening frame and the Vikings (11-0) settled for a 20-17 lead.
Point Pleasant (4-6) started the second quarter in strong fashion and held a 23-22 lead following Eric Chapman’s dunk.
“Chapman is a heck of a player inside and he did whatever he wanted to do in the first quarter,” Mullins said.
Ripley’s Luke Johnson, a 6-foot-11 center, answered with a jump hook 4:27 before halftime, and the Vikings never looked back.
Guard Dylan Casto made consecutive 3-pointers moments later to give RHS a 33-23 advantage, and after Point’s Grant Barton countered with a triple of his own, Casto canned back-to-back treys again.
“The second quarter with Dylan Casto coming in and making a lot of shots, it kind of ignited the crowd and got us into it,” Mullins said. “Then it led to us playing harder on defense.”
The Vikings’ Virgil Myers got a friendly bounce to beat the second-quarter buzzer with a 3, allowing Ripley to take a 42-28 lead into halftime.
While outscoring PPHS 22-11 in the second quarter, the Vikings forced six turnovers.
Ripley also went to halftime having made 16-of-29 shots, with Casto’s 17 points and five triples leading all players. Johnson, meanwhile, had 12 points and eight rebounds at the break in what was a competitive battle with Chapman, who carried the load for his team with 16 points and six boards through two quarters.
“When our guys are shooting well from outside, that draws the defense outside and leaves me to work in the post,” Johnson said.
The Vikings got stagnant during the third quarter and did not make a field goal until Johnson’s dunk 3:13 into the second half. Still, Ripley led 47-33 at that point, though Chapman drove for a bucket and Barton followed with a 3 to bring the Big Blacks to within nine points — the closest they’d been since trailing 33-26.
With Ripley still ahead by nine in the closing stages of the third, Johnson threw down a dunk on a well-executed alley-oop out of a timeout that enabled the Vikings to hold a 49-38 advantage entering the fourth. It was only the second field goal of the quarter in 14 attempts for the Vikings.
“We were trying to make it a track meet all four quarters. We did a good job of it in two quarters, but the first and third we didn’t do so well,” Mullins said. “That’s something we need to continue to work on.”
Yet Ripley responded by running off the first 12 points of the final frame to put the game out of reach. That stretch featured six points from Cade Goode on a conventional three-point play and a triple, four from Johnson on a pair of buckets from close range and Isaiah Casto’s layup.
All nine Point Pleasant points in the final period came on free throws as the Big Blacks were limited to four second-half field goals.
Johnson scored 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Dylan Casto made six of his team’s 10 treys and added 22 points off the bench, while Goode scored 12 and Isaiah Casto added nine points and seven assists.
“I’ve tried to step outside some and play kind of like a big 3 guard,” Johnson said. “That helps or other bigs and our other guys.”
Chapman led all players with 27 points and 12 boards in defeat. He was Point’s only double-figure scorer, though Barton contributed nine points in the loss.
The Vikings finished with 21 assists and only five turnovers.