Valley Defeats State-Ranked Bishop Donahue, 62-61
Valley center Clay Ueltschy knocked in a pair of charity tosses with 17 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lumberjacks to a 62-61 victory over state-ranked Bishop Donahue Jan. 7 at Pine Grove.
Ueltschy, who came into the game as one of the Lumberjacks’ leading scorers, was in foul trouble for most of the game and didn’t attempt a shot until the final seconds when he went to the line down a point and had to nail both attempts to give the hosts any chance to gain the nod.
“Yes, I was a basket case when I went to the line,” said Ueltschy. “I was nervous, because I have never been in that situation to win a game at the end.” The charity tosses were Ueltschys’ only points of the game.
“It was like we just won the state championship,” added Ueltschy. “I hope this victory will bring us closer than ever, and we can use this as a challenge to play like this every game.”
“It was a total team effort,” added Valley Head Coach John Kocher. “We believe we can play like this every game. Defend, contest shots, limit our turnovers, and take good shots. Just go back to the basics and look what the boys did.”
The Class-A second ranked Bishops showed why they were highly ranked at the start of the game, contesting every Lumberjack shot. They forced countless Valley turnovers into easy fast-break points. But, the ‘Jacks wouldn’t give in and came back from an eight-point deficit, to climb to within four points, 14-10, after one period of play.
The ‘Jacks used the strength of Ronald Morris and the inside game by Garrett Ueltschy off the bench, plus the courtmanship of Kody Jenkins and Drew Wade to pull Valley to within a deuce at the break, at 24-22.
Jenkins and Jeremiah Burch nailed back-to-back threeballs to give Valley its first lead of the game, while Jenkins added another triple to help give the Lumberjacks a 38-37 lead heading into the final stanza.
With the Lumberjack faithful doing their best to encourage their ‘Jacks, the visiting Bishops would retake the lead by midway through the final period. However, Garrett Ueltschy came off the bench and tallied three baskets, while their go-to guy, Alex “Hondo” Henderson, sank a deuce plus a basket from beyond the arch to retake the lead.
However, Bishop Donahue fought back and took a one-point lead with 17 seconds to go, before Clay Ueltschy did them in on the two freebies.
Donahue still had a chance for the win, but the loud Valley faithful and good old fashioned defense forced a turnover at the end, with the Lumberjack student body mixing in with the team to help celebrate the victory.
“We were able to have balanced scoring from the starters to the bench players,” added Kocher.
“I just want to add (we needed) our huge fan support to bring out the best in our players,” added Valley Assistant Coach Leslie Lively. “We had lost a few fans from the way we were playing so maybe this will bring them back and we can finish the season as strong as ever.”
Garrett Ueltschy came off the bench to lead the Lumberjacks with 16 markers, while Henderson knocked in 14 markers. Ronald Morris had the lone double-double for Valley with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Morris added two steals and one blocked shot for good measure.
Jenkins put up nine points, including a pair of three-point baskets, while dishing off a team-high four assists. Burch tallied seven markers, while Davie Sivert came off the bench to add a pair of baskets. Clay Ueltschy scored the tying — and winning — points on charity tosses. Wade didn’t score, but he contributed three assists, one steal, and one rebound.
“What a game!” exclaimed Kocher. “Boy, if this doesn’t get you excited and motivated, nothing will.
After losing to Beallsville the way we did, and to come back and play a state ranked team the way we did, there just isn’t a better feeling as a coach.”
The ‘Jacks will now face Clay-Battelle at Pine Grove, Jan. 14 with the junior varsity tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.