By Greg Klein Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — MILFORD — Round one in the match-up of the undefeated Tri-Valley League heavyweights went to Edmeston.
Logan Vibbard scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second quarter, and the Panthers held host Milford scoreless for the first six-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter to break open a close game en route to a 64-57 victory.
“We tell them all the time, we’re not going to win many games with our offense,” Edmeston coach Darren Belden said. “We have got to win with our defense. In the second half, I feel like we were able to play our defense.”
The Panthers led most of the second half but trailed, 43-42, after Peyton Griffiths hit a free throw with 4:01 left in the third quarter. Griffiths, who scored the Wildcats’ first 14 points of the quarter, drove the left baseline, made a layup and then converted a free throw after drawing a foul from Brandon Fallon.
The Panthers responded by scoring the next 10 points. Clayton Lyon started the run with a baseline drive from the right side. Vibbard made a three-pointer, Nick DeVries scored on a putback and Linton Wainright hit a three from the top of the key with 1:37 left in the quarter to give Edmeston a 52-43 cushion.
The Wildcats closed the quarter with two three-pointers. Will Ward scored on an assist from Griffiths and Elijah Rutledge banked in a shot at the buzzer to trim the Wildcats’ deficit to 52-49.
Milford wouldn’t get any closer as the Panthers scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter. The Wildcats didn’t score again until Ward hit his fourth and final three-pointer, with 1:30 left.
“That’s what we do,” Vibbard said. “We play tough man-to-man defense. That’s our game.”
The fast break was a big part of Edmeston’s game, too.
After falling behind, 5-0 and 14-10, in the first quarter, the Panthers turned things around in the second period with the transition game. Vibbard had 16 of his team’s 20 points in the second quarter, including the Panthers’ last 14 of the half.
“We just needed someone to step up, and that’s what I did,” he said. “But it could have been any one of us; it just happened to be me tonight. We’re a team. We’re not about just one player.”
Milford coach Frank Spurchise said he was impressed with Vibbard’s composure.
“I think for a big part of the (first half), they weren’t making baskets,” he said. “But he was able to keep them in the game with his free throw shooting.”
Griffiths led the Wildcats with 20 points. Ward contributed 16 and Max Lang had 14 for Milford (12-1, 8-1), which is at Cherry Valley-Springfield on Tuesday.
Wainright scored 16 and Fallon had 11 for Edmeston (13-0, 9-0), which hosts Franklin on Tuesday.
The game was the only one on the schedule between the Wildcats and Panthers, who lead the Tri-Valley League’s East and West divisions, respectively.
Nobody seemed to think it would be the only game they will play against each other this season, with the Tri-Valley League championship and Section Four Class D Tournament scheduled for February.
“To be honest, I hope we play them again in the Tri-Valley,” Vibbard said. “We were able to check off one of our goals tonight, but it was only the first one.”
Neither coach wanted to look ahead.
“We have four games left in the regular season and we need to keep our focus,” Belden said. “We’ve still got Laurens on our heels.”
Said Spurchise: “I firmly believe in one game at a time. What we need to realize right now is that this was just a league game. There was no championship involved tonight. But I can tell you, for a high-school basketball game, this is as good a game as you will see. It was fun. It was fun to coach and it was fun to watch.”
Edmeston 64, Milford 57
EDMESTON (13-0, 9-0): Linton Wainright 6 1-2 16, Logan Vibbard 7 9-13 24, Brandon Fallon 5 1-4 11, Kyle King 0 1-2 1, Clayton Lyon 3 2-4 8, Hunter Fistrowicz 0 0-0 0, Nick DeVries 2 0-2 4. TOTALS: 23 14-27 64.
MILFORD (12-1, 8-1): Blake Elliott 0 0-0 0, Peyton Griffiths 7 5-8 20, Stephen Banks 0 0-0 0, William Ward 6 0-0 16, Paul VanWarner 0 0-0 0, Brian Atwell 1 0-0 2, Max Lang 5 3-6 14, Jacob Tabor 1 0-2 2, Eli Rutledge 1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 21 8-14 57.
Edmeston 13 20 19 12 - 64
Milford 14 15 20 8 - 57
Three-point field goals: E 4 (Wainright 3, Vibbard); M 7 (Ward 4, Griffiths, Rutledge, Lang). JV score: Edmeston won.