SISSONVILLE, W.Va. — It had to end sometime, but their tournament run ended much sooner than the Big Blacks had hoped.
The Point Pleasant boys basketball team dropped a Class AA Region IV, Section 1 opening round game to host Sissonville, by a 71-36 final score, on Monday night in Kanawha County.
The Big Blacks (11-12) — who never led in the game, tying the score just once, at 2-2 — trailed 11-6 after eight minutes of play.
PPHS briefly cut its deficit to one possession, at 11-8, but Sissonville (15-8) reeled off 14 straight points to push its advantage to 25-8 with 3:30 left in the second quarter.
Over the final 3:30 of the first half, the Indians outscored PPHS by a 12-to-7 clip, making the SHS lead 37-15 at halftime.
“We got some good, open looks in the beginning, they just didn’t fall,” fifth-year PPHS head coach Josh Williams said. “In the early part of the first quarter, I would take those looks all day long for our team, they just didn’t fall. After that I felt like we were rushing, a little bit of panic set in because we weren’t scoring and they were. We just played a little bit fast, and credit to them too, their pressure made us play fast.”
In the first half, PPHS shot just 17.1 percent from the field, missing all 10 tries from beyond the arc. The Big Blacks gave the ball away 14 times in opening 16 minutes, in which time Sissonville shot 33.3 percent from the field and committed just one turnover.
Point Pleasant scored the first seven points of the second half, cutting the SHS lead to 37-22 with 6:30 left in the third. The Indians bounced back with a 5-0 spurt, but the Big Blacks came up with a 5-0 run of their own, making the SHS lead 42-27 with three minutes left in the third. SHS ended the third period with a 10-2 run and a 52-29 lead.
“We got a nice little run to start the second half,” said Coach Williams. “I’m proud of them, I thought the kids fought and played as hard as they could. If we could have just squeezed out a few more buckets in that stretch, we might have been able to get some things turned around.”
In the opening 60 seconds of the fourth quarter, each team connected on a three-pointer. Over the next six minutes, Sissonville went on a 14-0 run, pushing its lead to a game-high 37 points, at 69-32. Point Pleasant scored four of the final six points, to put the final touches on Sissonville’s 71-36 victory.
“Sissonville is just a team you can’t blink on, they have shooters” Coach Williams said. “Whether you’re up four or down four, if you take a breath and they get hot, you’re looking at a double digit deficit. They’re a pretty efficient team, good shooting once they get rolling. They’re hard to guard.”
On the glass, the teams were tied with 40 rebounds apiece, with SHS claiming a narrow 12-to-11 edge on the offensive end. For the game, PPHS committed 23 turnovers, while Sissonville gave the ball away just six times. The Indians also held advantages in assists (15-to-8), steals (16-to-4) and blocked shots (4-to-1).
In total, Point Pleasant was 15-of-59 (25.4 percent) from the field, including 2-of-17 (11.8 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Sissonville finished 27-of-69 (39.1 percent) from the field, including 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) from deep.
From the free throw line, the Big Blacks shot 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) and the Indians shot 12-of-16 (75 percent).
The Point Pleasant offense was led by sophomore Cason Payne, who posted nine points before fouling out with 1:24 left in the third canto. PPHS seniors Will Harbour and Braydon Ralbusky both scored eight points and dished out two assists, with Harbour pulling in a game-best 19 rebounds.
PPHS freshman Braxton Yates posted four points and two assists, while fellow freshman Camron Long added three points on a trifecta. Parker Rairden and Jason Bechtle rounded out the Big Blacks’ total with two points apiece.
Ralbusky led the defensive effort for Point Pleasant, with three steals. Payne came up with one steal for PPHS, while Trace Derenberger blocked one shot and pulled in five rebounds.
Sissonville was led by senior Chance Brown with 31 points, coming on eight two-pointers, three trifectas and a 6-of-6 performance from the free throw line. Zachary McCutcheon was next for SHS with 15 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds.
Will Hackney scored 13 points for the victors, Brady Jones chipped in with five points, while Nathan Samples marked three points. Bryce Taylor, Jarrett Withrow and Hunter Thomas rounded out the Indian scoring with two points apiece.
Taylor and Samples both assisted on four baskets in the win. Brown led the Indian defense with four steals, followed by Taylor with three steals and Samples with two steals and two blocked shots.
This marks the finale game in the Red, Black and White for Point Pleasant seniors, Will Harbour, Braydon Ralbusky, Parker Rairden, Matthew Martin, Evan Thompson, Austin Liptrap and Douglas Workman.
“I feel like they’ve meant everything in revitalizing our program,’ said Coach Williams of his seven seniors. “It all started with those seniors making the commitment after their junior year. They were tired of losing, they had lost since they were in seventh grade. They came in in the offseason and really set the tone. I’ve never had a team care about each other as much as these guys do, they’ve been pretty special.”
Point Pleasant’s season was highlighted by a seven-game win streak, but the Big Blacks lost eight of their final nine decisions.
Sissonville will continue on to the Class AA Region IV, Section 1 semifinal, in which it will visit Poca, on Thursday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.