GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — One step closer to the final four.
The Ohio Valley boys basketball team moved one step closer to the OCSAA state championships with a 60-41 regional semi-final victory over East Richland Christian in Gallipolis.
The Defenders (12-8) out scored ERCS 8-to-5 over the opening five minutes of the game and then OVCS caught fire. Ohio Valley Christian scored 11 unanswered points to end the opening stanza with a 19-5 lead.The Lions answered back with a 12-to-10 spurt in the second period that cut the Defenders lead to 29-17 at halftime.
After halftime the Ohio Valley Christian defense stepped up the intensity, forcing five turnovers and allowing just two points in the third period. The Defenders marked 13 in the third and led 42-19 with eight minutes to play.
ERSC scored 21 points in the finale, but the Defenders marked 18 in the period to take the 60-41 victory.
All eight Defenders scored in the game, led by T.G. Miller with 20 points.Evan Bowman chipped in with 13. Chance Burleson finished with nine points, followed by Lukas Wells with four. Phil Hollingshead and Richard Bowman each finished with three points, while Eric Blevins and Will Rankin each had one.
The Blue and Gold shot 14-of-28 (50 percent) from the free throw line and 18-of-43 (41.9 percent) from the field. Evan Bowman was the only Defender to attempt a three-pointer in the game and he was 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) from beyond the arc.
Joel Mott led the Lions with 16 points, followed by Grant Bruner with 12 and Zack Clark with six. Thomas Ball marked four points, while Logna Lish had three to round out the East Richland Christian scoring.
The Lions shot 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) from the line and 12-of-38 (31.6 percent) from the field, including 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
ERCS finished the game with just four players, as two of its six players fouled out. The Lions coach received a technical foul with 3:09 remaining in the fourth period.
Ohio Valley Christian held a 7-to-11 advantage in turnovers on the night.
The second seeded Defenders play top seeded High Street Christian in the southeast regional final with a trip to the Final Four on the line.