GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — This time the tables were turned.
In a rematch of last year’s Ohio Christian Schools Athletic Association title game, fifth-seeded Dayton Temple Christian exacted a little revenge by knocking out defending state champion Ohio Valley Christian on Friday night during a 57-48 decision in a Southeast Region opening round contest in the Old French City.
The fourth-seeded Defenders (14-11) — who won last year’s title game by a 49-28 margin — simply didn’t have as much luck with the Tigers (13-8) in their latest postseason go-around as the hosts trailed 28-24 at the break and ultimately never managed to overcome that halftime deficit.
And unlike last year — when OVCS had center Marshall Hood dominating in the middle — this time it was DTC big-man Joe Timmons that proved to be the biggest difference-maker in the game.
Timmons — standing in at roughly 6-foot-5 — was easily the tallest player on the floor, and substantially bigger than any of the Ohio Valley Christian players tasked with guarding him.
Timmons was a consistent thorn in the Defenders’ side as the big man scored 16 first-half points and finished the evening with a game-high 26 points to go along with 17 rebounds.
And, in the end, Timmons served as the get-out-of-trouble guy every time that OVCS pulled to within striking distance in the second half. And eventually, his efforts took their toll on the hosts.
Both teams were tied at 10 apiece after eight minutes of play, then the Tigers got 10 points from Timmons as part of an 18-14 run that resulted in a two-possession lead at the intermission.
Timmons scored the opening second half basket, which gave DTC its largest lead of the third canto at 30-24 just 36 seconds in. OVCS, however, followed with an 11-6 surge over the next four-plus minutes and closed to within a single point four different times — with the last occasion coming at 36-35 with 3:14 left.
The Tigers responded with four consecutive points that led to a 40-35 advantage headed into the finale.
Nate Dubs capped an 8-4 run with a basket at the 5:31 mark of the fourth, which led to a 44-43 deficit. The hosts were never closer the rest of the way.
DTC retaliated with a 6-4 run to extend the lead out to 50-47 with 1:13 left, then closed the game on a 7-1 charge to wrap up the nine-point outcome — the largest lead of the night for either squad.
As defending state champions, it was tough to see another run at postseason glory come to such an early end. But, in the end, the final outcome came down to the Tigers’ size advantage.
OVCS coach Steve Rice was disappointed in the final outcome, especially for his seniors, but he was also quick to point out that his upperclassmen have been part of quite a ride during their tenure as Defenders.
And that is something that Friday night’s outcome can never take away.
“I feel bad for my seniors because I know that they expected a lot more this year than a first round exit. We just couldn’t stop Timmons … and he killed us on the inside. We didn’t do a good job of controlling the boards and their guards gave us fits by driving the ball inside for shots. If they didn’t go in, it seemed like Timmons was there to just grab it and put it back in every time,” Rice said. “Our effort was great and we were prepared, but we just didn’t execute some of the things we needed to to win this game. Had we been healthy, things may have been different.
“At the same time, these guys have been to state the last three years and have had winning records during each of their seasons here at Ohio Valley Christian. It’s tough now, but they will have a lot of great things to look back on as they get older. They should be proud of what they have accomplished.”
The Defenders netted four of their 20 total field goals from behind the arc and also went 4-of-6 at the free throw line for 67 percent.
Austin Ragan and Justin Beaver led the hosts with 16 points apiece, followed by Hollis Morrison with a dozen markers. Dubs and Dante Lewis rounded the scoring out with two points apiece.
The Tigers netted only one of their 22 total field goals from behind the arc and also went 12-of-16 at the charity stripe for 75 percent.
Noah Branhan followed Timmons with eight points and Wes McClellan chipped in six markers. Mason Miller and Will Sutten were next with five points apiece, while Zack Askey chipped in three markers.
Ryan Easthon and Telston Robb wrapped up the winning tally with two points each.
The Defenders will conclude their 2016-17 campaign on Monday when they host Parkersburg Christian in a regular season finale at 7 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.