BIDWELL, Ohio — For the River Valley Lady Raiders, this one simply had to be a head-scratcher.
Too many missed shots, too many turnovers, and 14 missed free throws threw a wrench into the Lady Raiders’ plans on Wednesday night, as visiting Athens upset River Valley 41-34 in a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division girls basketball makeup matchup.
Athens never trailed in the contest, and Alexis McCollum clinched the win with four critical made foul shots in the final minute and three seconds.
With the loss, the Raiders fell to 8-10 — unfortunately having dropped eight of their last nine games.
River Valley fell to 4-6 in the TVC-Ohio, while the Bulldogs improved to 3-6 in the league, part of 4-12.
The game was postponed from Monday night due to inclement weather.
The Raiders had defeated Athens 49-33 on Dec. 14 at Athens’ McAfee Gymnasium.
River Valley actually almost came back and captured the win, but by an inability to make free throws and by missing many makeable opportunities, that rally fell short.
The Raiders went 10-of-24 from the foul line, missing seven of nine attempts in the fourth quarter alone.
Athens itself only made 15-of-28, but Emma Harter hit 4-of-6 in the first half, followed by McCollum making her final four in the final minute.
In a foul-filled affair, the Raiders committed 23 and the Bulldogs 22, as Athens only made a dozen total field goals and the Raiders 11.
With both clubs in the double bonus free-throw situation for the final minute-and-a-half, McCollum canned the second of two with 1:03 left to make it 37-33.
After Tianna Qualls split a pair for River Valley with 44 seconds to play, McCollum again split a front-and-back with 36 seconds — with the second one sinking to make it 38-34.
It was then Lauren Abdella’s turn at the foul line, as River Valley’s Courtney Smith missed a three-point attempt with 15 seconds to play — and Abdella converted the second of yet another two freebies.
Finally, following a Raider turnover, McCollum sealed the win with two more made tosses with 4.6 seconds left.
Harter, who had four field goals over the opening three quarters, led the Bulldogs with a dozen points.
Taylor Gregory, whose back-to-back threes gave Athens its largest lead (23-9) with 3:24 to play in the second stanza, netted nine along with McCollum.
McCollum made both of her field goals in the opening eight minutes.
Sophie Miller muscled two field goals and 2-of-4 free throws towards six points, while Abdella added a fourth-quarter field goal and Katie Johnson two second-period free throws.
Athens is also playing without Claire DeBruin, one of its former starters who is out with a concussion.
Athens led 11-7, 26-16 and 30-23 at the end of each quarter, as the Raiders — following the first period — came no closer than three points twice (36-33 and 37-34).
The Bulldogs also withstood a second-half scoring drought, which spanned from the two-minute mark of the third canto to the 5:45 point of the fourth.
Athens only scored four points in the third, including a Harter basket and McCollum’s first free throw.
Gregory bookended that drought with her free throw in the third and an inside deuce in the last.
The Raiders’ drought of their own, however, was worse.
River Valley endured a five-minute scoreless second period, in which Athens answered with eight unanswered including Gregory’s two treys.
Erin Jackson hit both of the Silver and Black’s three-pointers, en route to a team-high 11 points.
Qualls scored seven and Smith had six, as Qualls connected on two field goals and three free throws, and Smith a trio of field goals.
The Bulldogs denied Leia Moore making a single bucket, as she made four foul shots over the final three periods.
Jaden Neal — on a field goal and 2-of-2 free throws — chipped in four, while Carly Gilmore gained a field goal in the third.
The Lady Raiders returned to non-league action on Thursday night, when they traveled across the Ohio River to take on Point Pleasant.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106