Arrows hit the bullseye, take down Valley View

Preble Shawnee Arrows' Mason Shrout. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

CLAYTON – Preble Shawnee’s Arrows, the regular season Western Ohio Athletic Conference champions, dominated the boards in the second half to pull away from Valley View to claim a district semi-final contest in D-III play held at Northmont High School. In taking the Spartans down by a 62-38 count the Arrows advanced their season record to 21-3 and moved on to a district-final matchup with Williamsburg next week at UD Arena at a date to be determined.

Shawnee’s Mason Shrout continued to play outstanding basketball, pacing the Arrows with 23 points as well as pounding the glass and dishing out assists. However “player of the game” honors have to be given to his teammate, 6’3” junior guard Isaac Blankenship who not only scored 12 points but also played tremendous defense on Valley View freshman sensation Brody Denny who came into the contest averaging 23 points per game. Using his length and athleticism Blankenship hounded Denny the entire evening whether the Arrows  were playing a straight man-to-man defense or a box and one.

When Blankenship needed a breather, 6’2” sophomore Brody Morton took over guarding Denny, helping limit the freshman to only 12 points and effectively shutting down the Spartans offensive attack. Morton also contributed 17 points of his own in a nice overall effort.

The Arrows jumped out to a 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, with Blankenship and Shrout both scoring 8 points, each with two three-point baskets. Widening the lead to 32-20 at the intermission, Shawnee outscored Valley View 17-10 in the third period to open a 49-30 lead and end any hopes of a Spartan comeback.

Shrout showed why he will be playing D-I basketball in college for Purdue Fort Wayne, a member of the Horizon League. Constantly in motion, the 6’5” senior never plays in a hurry and is always under control, letting the game come to him, shooting when necessary, hitting teammates with crisp passes, and taking over a game when needed as attested by his career total of well over 2,000 points.

The Spartans’ Denny, while obviously talented, had trouble getting open for most of the game as Valley View couldn’t find any way to crack the Arrows defensive efforts. Getting frustrated by the tight defense played by Blankenship the 5’10” guard started to play like a first-year starter at the varsity level as the game continued and forced shots that weren’t there.

Senior Micah Valenti added 11 points to the Spartan effort while freshman Ty Fritz had 7, all in the first quarter. Valley View finishes the season with an 11-13 mark but lots of optimism for the future in the Southwestern Buckeye League and beyond.

Shawnee’s quest for a district title and a second consecutive appearance in the D-III regionals appears realistic as they played consistent team basketball around the efforts of Shrout, Blankenship, and Morton. Look for the Arrows to hit the mark over the next few games as they continue down the tournament trail.