BIDWELL, Ohio — It’s never over until it’s over.
Visiting Point Pleasant turned a 17-point fourth quarter deficit into a four-point fourth quarter deficit over the span of five-plus minutes, but the River Valley boys basketball team ended regulation with a 6-1 run and ultimately claimed a 57-48 victory on Tuesday night in a non-conference matchup in Gallia County.
The Raiders (4-8) led the final 28:18 of regulation after pulling away from an early five-all tie with a 9-2 surge over the final 4:18 of the opening canto, allowing the hosts to secure a 14-7 cushion through eight minutes of play.
The Silver and Black — who held the Big Blacks (1-7) to just 4-of-23 shooting in the first half — continued adding to their lead as Jarret McCarley scored six points as part of an 11-6 second quarter run that allowed the hosts to take their largest lead of the first half (25-13) into the break.
McCarley and Dustin Barber both scored five points apiece in the third canto, but Hunter Bush answered with eight points as the Red and Black netted 6-of-10 shots as part of a 16-14 run that closed the deficit down to 39-29 headed into the finale.
The Raiders appeared to have things under wraps after starting the fourth with a 9-2 run that led to their largest advantage of the night at 48-31 with 6:36 remaining, but the guests answered by hitting seven of their first 10 shot attempts during a 16-3 charge that cut the deficit down to 51-47 with 54 seconds left in regulation.
McCarley, however, scored five points in the final minute as part of River Valley’s 6-1 run down the stretch, allowing the hosts to complete their nine-point triumph.
River Valley committed only seven of the 25 turnovers in the contest, but the Raiders went only 19-of-32 at the free throw line for 59 percent and were also outrebounded by a 32-20 overall margin.
Point Pleasant — which went 6-of-9 at the charity stripe for 67 percent — also claimed an 11-3 edge on the offensive boards, including an 8-0 advantage through three quarters of action.
Despite leading all but 1:43 of the contest, it wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Raiders — particularly given their struggles on the glass and at the free throw line.
Then again, you don’t have to apologize for victories … and RVHS coach Bryan Drummond noted that, by night’s end, he was glad to get out with a win — given some recent circumstances.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for us just with the weather and trying to get practice time in. That showed tonight at the free throw line and from behind the arc,” Drummond said. “We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we are capable of and we didn’t do a very good job on the boards, but it’s a W at the end of the night and that’s all that matters.
“Obviously we have some things to work on moving forward, but this was a good win for us to get against a young, scrappy team like Point Pleasant. I think Josh does a great job over there and his kids never quit. They made things tough on us at the end, but I was proud of how we responded when we needed it.”
Conversely, PPHS coach Josh Williams continues to preach patience with his young troops … but also mentioned that at some point they need to turn a corner and show signs of growth.
Coincidentally, Williams felt that his squad did just that — just when things were at there worst.
“We know we are a young group, but we need to keep buying into the process of learning as we go. Right now with us, it’s the little things that keep getting us in trouble,” Williams said. “Their 1-3-1 zone really gave us some trouble early on and we were in a hole, but then we played like we had nothing to lose and were able to put together a really good run.
“Tonight we learned that we play better when we are aggressive and we had some kids step up off the bench and contribute. It’s a frustrating loss in a lot of ways, but there were also some silver linings that we can take from this as we go forward.”
River Valley connected on 16-of-38 field goal attempts for 42 percent, including a 4-of-14 effort from three-point range for 29 percent.
McCarley led the hosts with a game-high 31 points and also grabbed a team-best six rebounds, while Barber followed with nine points and Jordan Lambert added six markers.
Matthew Mollohan and Rory Twyman each contributed three points, while Brandon Call and Patrick Brown chipped in two points apiece. Chase Caldwell completed the winning tally with a single point.
Mollohan also grabbed four rebounds and Brown hauled in three caroms for the victors.
The Big Blacks netted 18-of-46 shot attempts for 39 percent, including a 6-of-23 effort from behind the arc for 26 percent.
Bush led PPHS with 15 points, followed by Kade Oliver with nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Camron Long and Malik Butler were next with six markers apiece, while Aiden Sang chipped in five points.
Braxton Yates added three points and five rebounds, while Kyle Martin and Trace Derenberger completed the scoring with two markers each.
River Valley will host Military Appreciation Night on Friday when Wellston comes to town for a TVC Ohio contest at 7 p.m.
Point Pleasant returns to action Friday when it travels to Braxton County for a non-conference contest at 7 p.m.
NOTE: This story will appear in the Friday sports edition of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.