BIG STONE GAP — Powell Valley might slow down to savor its success if going fast wasn’t working so well.
The Vikings preserved their unblemished Lonesome Pine District record, beating J.I. Burton 52-44 on Friday night in a highly entertaining, up-tempo boys basketball game .
“We try to force, try to pick the tempo up,” Powell Valley coach Zack Moore said. “We play better when we’re faster.”
The same could be said of Burton (5-8, 3-2), but a fourth-quarter drought spoiled the Raiders’ hopes of a road win. Burton did not score in the fourth quarter until there was 2:58 remaining. By then, Powell Valley led by nine.
Powell Valley (10-7, 5-0) got off to a strong start after a dismal shooting performance in Wednesday’s loss to Lee High. The Vikings made eight field goals in the first quarter and led 16-6 at one point.
The Raiders clawed back, tying it 18-18 on Devin Talley’s breakaway layup off a steal. Burton did not take its first lead until Pat Begley had two straight buckets to open the third quarter that staked the Raiders to a 28-27 lead.
It didn’t last long. With 4:45 left in the frame, Powell Valley went ahead for good, 32-30, on Theo Johnson’s pair of free throws.
Jordan Martin led Powell Valley with 20 points. Johnson scored 14 and Terrell Turner had 12.
Delmas Lawson had a quiet offensive night but his defense limited Burton’s Ethan Stewart to just six points. Lawson also snared eight rebounds, embodying a collective crash-the-board mentality both coaches cited as a key.
“We know they’re not that good a shooting team. That ought to tell our rebounders there’s rebounds to be had,” Burton coach Stan Wilson said.
The Vikings tried to collapse on Stewart whenever he got the ball — so much so that a man defense often looked like a zone.
Talley paced Burton with 13 points. Begley had 12.
Earlier, Powell Valley’s girls topped J.I. Burton 55-47 to earn a share of second place in the LPD.
That status is a welcome change for the Lady Vikings (9-7, 3-2), who are flourishing under first-year coach Mike Day. He previously coached the boys’ JV at Powell Valley.
“This group of girls are athletes,” Day said. “They can play like boys. It didn’t take me long to see the way they run the floor.”
Tasha Trent led the way for the Lady Vikes with 19 points and nine rebounds. Erika Long scored 10 points.
Ashley Hunter and talented freshman post Rashelle Miller finished with 13 points each for Burton (8-8, 2-3), but Powell Valley leapt out to a 26-13 halftime lead and the Lady Raiders’ interior-minded offense was ill-suited for a comeback.
It was a step backward for Burton, which knocked off No. 6 Clintwood on Wednesday.
Lady Raiders coach Mike Goforth noted Burton has trailed by at least 15 points in each of its three LPD road games this season.