CLEVES — Taylor High School’s gym was packed, deafening at times and overflowing with emotion.
Jordan Robinette? He was having a blast.
“It’s lovely,” the New Miami sophomore guard said. “To get in those type of games and have everybody start talking like that, it just puts me in the zone where I can do anything I want.”
SATURDAY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT COVERAGE
The thought put a smile on his face Saturday evening after the biggest win in years by the Vikings boys basketball team, a 76-66 triumph over Ripley in a Division IV sectional opener and New Miami’s first tournament victory since the 2008-09 season.
The Vikings, who’ve already clinched their first winning record since 2002-03, were two points away from having five players with double-digit scoring.
“This is a big one for our program and our district and our community,” New Miami coach Jared Lee said. “I’m proud of every single one of our guys. We don’t win without any of the seven kids that I played tonight, and we don’t win without the rest of them on the bench who worked hard in practice to get us ready.
“That’s a very good basketball team, an explosive team that goes on a lot of runs. We had to weather the storm and go on runs of our own. We had plenty of chances to go away and the boys stayed in it. That’s a testament to them. I couldn’t be happier.”
Fourth-seeded New Miami (14-9) was led in the scoring column by Deanza Duncan (21), Jordan (20) and Trey (14) Robinette, Ronnie Bowman (10) and David Cunningham (eight).
The Vikings overcame a nine-point halftime deficit and threw in 52 points after the break against second-seeded Ripley (18-5), the Southern Hills Athletic Conference champion.
“I thought we worked hard the whole game and didn’t give up,” said Bowman, who pulled down 19 rebounds. “Earlier in the season, I feel like if we would’ve been in that situation down by nine at half, maybe we would’ve shut down a little bit. But the seniors knew this was it if we lost. It was a do-or-die situation.
“This feels great coming in my senior year and flipping the program like we have. For me, it’s just an exciting year. I’m really enjoying it. I hope we can go further in the tournament.”
Lee said he was thrilled for the senior trio of Nate Hobbs, Cunningham and Bowman, who’s been a four-year standout in the program.
“At the very minimum, going out and graduating with a tournament win is huge,” Lee said. “It’s something our seniors really wanted and we got it for them, and they were big parts of it. So it’s a good deal.”
The Vikings outscored the Blue Jays 24-10 over the last 4:30 and ultimately won the game at the charity stripe, sinking 29-of-43 free throws. Ripley was 9-of-17 at the line and had five players foul out.
“That was probably our worst game all year … there might have been one other game that was comparable,” Blue Jays coach Rex Woodward said. “We came in with a good game plan, but it comes down to execution, and we just didn’t do that for most of the night.
“I’ve been watching basketball for a long, long time, and never have I seen five guys foul out in a game. We’re just going to blame ourselves when it comes to execution and getting stops and things like that. We’ve got to be better.”
Ripley fired in nine 3-pointers, four by Peyton Fyffe, who had a game-high 24 points. Nigel and Jaki Royal added 13 apiece.
Woodward said his team has been allowing just under 50 points per game, so watching New Miami put up 52 in one half wasn’t very satisfying.
“They hit shots and we were out of the flow and in foul trouble,” he said. “We knew they were quick and athletic and we knew that their strengths were their guards, so we wanted to keep them out of the paint and really just contain their penetration. Obviously we didn’t do a very good job of that.”
Bowman said it took a while for the Vikings to adjust to Ripley’s all-out running game. He can rebound in any style of play, reaching double figures in boards 11 times this year.
And when Saturday’s game was on the line, Bowman provided some offense as well. He scored nine points in the fourth stanza.
“I started thinking I was getting a bunch of defensive rebounds and I saw they weren’t really boxing out that well, so I tried to take advantage of it,” Bowman said. “I’d grab it and put it back up, and if I missed it, I grabbed it and put it back up again. I just tried to keep going and going.”
“I’m going to give a shoutout to Ronnie Bowman and Nate Hobbs and David Cunningham for getting all the rebounds,” said Jordan Robinette, who was 12-of-16 at the free-throw line and collected five rebounds and four assists. “When it was over, it was great, one of the best feelings in my life.”
Lee said as much as the historical milestones are important, the Vikings were simply focused on trying to bounce back from last year’s first-round loss to Cincinnati College Prep Academy.
“We had a really good draw, and we just kind of screwed it up,” Lee said. “We had a much harder draw this year, but we wanted a little redemption. We challenged our kids, and they answered the call.”
In Saturday’s first game at Taylor, top-seeded Cincinnati Christian cruised to a 79-25 victory over the No. 10 School for the Creative & Performing Arts.
CCS was going to be the heavy favorite regardless, but Cougars coach Carl Woods said SCPA recently lost its primary ball handler.
“We’ve got to come out and play our game and not be lackadaisical, so we played our normal system like we always do,” Woods said. “We got an early lead and then we backed them off. It was good to get the tournament jitters out of our system and get some live action instead of practicing and looking at each other.”
Bryson Teague tallied 20 points, four rebounds and three steals for Cincinnati Christian (18-5). Logan Woods marked 16 points, four boards and four assists, and Riley Reutener added 10 points, four rebounds and three assists. Jalon Percy grabbed eight boards.
SCPA (3-17) got eight points apiece from Chris Copenhaver and Ozzie McEachin.
The Cougars will return to Taylor on Tuesday to play ninth-seeded Hillcrest at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re definitely playing our best basketball right now,” Carl Woods said. “I’ve still got a couple tweaks I want to do with the defense, but outside of that, the guys are clicking. They’re having fun and getting after it.”
New Miami 12-12-21-31—76
NEW MIAMI (14-9): Deanza Duncan 6 7 21; Trey Robinette 4 5 14; Nate Hobbs 1 1 3; Ronnie Bowman 4 2 10; Jordan Robinette 3 12 20; David Cunningham 3 2 8. Totals: 21-29-76
RIPLEY (18-5); Nigel Royal 6 0 13; Landon Rigdon 2 0 6; Jaki Royal 4 5 13; Peyton Fyffe 8 4 24; Corey Germann 3 0 8; T.K. Whatley 1 0 2. Totals: 24-9-66
3-pointers: N 5 (Duncan 2, J. Robinette 2, T. Robinette), R 9 (Fyffe 4, Germann 2, Rigdon 2, N. Royal)
Cincinnati Christian 20-29-20-10—79
SCHOOL FOR THE CREATIVE & PERFORMING ARTS (3-17): Jeremiah Neblett 0 1 1; Chris Copenhaver 3 1 8; Ozzie McEachin 2 3 8; Louis Searcy 1 0 3; Robert Roland 2 1 5. Totals: 8-6-25
CINCINNATI CHRISTIAN (18-5): Rile Reutener 4 2 10; Miguel Ringer 3 1 7; Winston Spencer 2 0 4; Cole Martin 2 0 5; Logan Woods 6 1 16; Cody Anderson 1 0 2; Devin McKinnon 4 0 8; Bryson Teague 7 4 20; Jalon Percy 1 0 2; Caden Glenn 2 0 5. Totals: 32-8-79
3-pointers: S 3 (Copenhaver, McEachin, Searcy), C 7 (Woods 3, Teague 2, Martin, Glenn)