LEADWOOD – Noah Vinson pulled through for West County when the score was tied with less than a minute remaining against rival Arcadia Valley.
He chased down an errant pass deep into the backcourt, then immediately raced to the other end of the floor to earn free throws by slashing hard into the lane with 4.8 seconds remaining. Vinson drained both chances at the stripe, and recorded a game-high 18 points plus seven rebounds for the Bulldogs in a 55-53 victory on Friday.
Hayden Roney provided a powerful presence down low to finish with 16 points and 12 rebounds for West County (7-8, 2-0), which recovered from an 88-64 loss to Arcadia Valley (8-7, 0-1) during and earlier matchup in November.
Reid Pratt helped the Bulldogs maintain a comfortable lead early in the fourth quarter with crafty passes to set up open teammates. He wrapped the ball around two defenders in the post to connect with Vinson and snap a three-minute scoreless stretch to gain a 47-39 lead.
However, Arcadia Valley generated a 14-4 run with two minutes remaining to tie the score at 53-53 on a pair of foul shots by Takota Jones.
Peyton Whited sank his fourth and final 3-pointer on the previous possession to bring the score within two points, and paced the Tigers with 17 points plus six rebounds.
West County began the contest with a stout interior resistance, and limited the Tigers to one basket from Whited in the first quarter. Roney grabbed five of his nine first-half rebounds, as the Bulldogs ended the period on a 12-0 run to claim a 15-3 advantage.
The Tigers quickly retaliated by scoring on two West County turnovers during the first minute of the second quarter. The perimeter defense improved to force five turnovers as they slowly chipped away at the deficit.
Jeremiah Moore frequently created space near the basket, and notched nine of his 11 points for Arcadia Valley during the second period. He added six rebounds and three blocks in the loss.
Whited pulled down a defensive rebound, then rushed the length of the floor to knock down a floater and shrink the margin within 23-19 as time expired in the first half.
The Bulldogs increased the offensive tempo early in the third quarter to stretch their lead. Nathan Hollock made his second 3-pointer to cap an 11-5 West County run for a 34-24 lead less than two minutes into the period.
The Tigers attempted to match the faster pace, but their effort often resulted in turnovers.
West County maintained a sizable lead throughout the third quarter, and Vinson sank an 8-foot jumper off an offensive rebound as time expired to widen the advantage 42-34.
Hollock ended with 10 points, and Nate Kinnard added 10 rebounds in the win.
Mikey Sizemore tallied nine points and five rebounds for the Tigers.
West County will host Herculaneum on Tuesday. Arcadia Valley will travel face Fredericktown on the same day.