GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Eventually, it turned into a fitting farewell.
The Ohio Valley Christian boys basketball team made a 28-11 fourth quarter charge and completed its regular season schedule on a solid note Monday night during a 60-43 victory over visiting Parkersburg Christian in a non-conference matchup in the Old French City.
The Defenders (15-11) — playing in their final home game of the 2016-17 campaign — struggled through an emotional first half of action as the hosts trailed by as many as eight points late in the second canto.
OVCS, however, cut the deficit to six at the break, then made a 15-9 third period run that allowed the Blue and White to tie the contest up at 32-all headed into the finale.
Austin Ragan capped a 15-4 charge out of the fourth quarter gate with a basket that resulted in a 47-36 OVCS lead at the 4:24 mark. The Knights (12-16) were never closer than three possessions the rest of the way.
With the Defenders clinging to a commanding 57-43 lead with a minute left in regulation, injured senior Elijah McDonald checked into the game for an attempt at one final basket at home.
McDonald, who currently serves as the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer in boys basketball, missed his first three-point try from the left corner, but the PCS defenders put down their guard while allowing McDonald another attempt.
McDonald releases a second trifecta attempt from the same spot in the corner, which found nothing but net with 38 seconds left — wrapping up the 17-point triumph.
With McDonald’s basket, all five Ohio Valley Christian seniors — McDonald, Ragan, Michael Gruber, Hollis Morrison and Nathan Dubs — were able to reach the scoring column in their final home contest. The end result was also a nice added bonus.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling, knowing it’s the last home game with this group. Then again, it’s a great memory for these seniors to know that they won their final home game,” OVCS head coach Steve Rice said afterwards. “Tonight is one of those things that those seniors will remember for the rest of their lives, and hopefully they will remember a lot of the other good things that they have been part of during their careers here.”
There were 10 lead changes in the opening canto alone, which led to a 12-11 Parkersburg Christian advantage through eight minutes of play.
OVCS knotted things up at 14-all at 6:54 remaining in the half, but Josh Deem capped a 9-1 surge over the next 3:30 to that allowed the guests to secure their largest lead of the night at 23-15.
Justin Beaver end an almost six-minute drought without a field goal with a basket at the 1:01 mark, allowing OVCS to close to within 23-17 at the intermission.
The Defenders made four of their 25 total field goals from behind the arc and also went 6-of-10 at the free throw line for 60 percent.
Ragan — who is also a 1,000-point scorer and seventh all-time in boys scoring at the school — led OVCS with a game-high 25 points, followed by Beaver with 18 points and Morrison with seven markers.
Dubs was next with five points and McDonald added three points, while Michael Gruber and Bryce Gruber rounded out the winning tally with one point apiece.
The Knights hit three of their 19 total field goals and also went 2-of-3 at the free throw line for 67 percent.
Anthony Vince paced PCS with 19 points and Deem added 12 markers. Walker Cain was next with six points, while Trey Bennett and Jacob Johnson respectively rounded things out with four and two points.
OVCS will be competing in the National Christian Schools Athletic Association tournament on March 2-4 at Mount Vernon Nazarene College.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.