CENTENARY, Ohio — For now, the bragging rights belong to the Blue Angels.
The Gallia Academy girls basketball team trailed visiting River Valley by three points after the first quarter, but the hosts edged out the Lady Raiders 43-37 over the remainder of the contest, as GAHS claimed a 51-48 season-opening victory on Monday in Gallia County.
The victory also served as the first win for Gallia Academy first-year head coach Jordan Deel.
The Silver and Black (1-1) held the hosts to just one field goal through the opening six minutes of the contest, to build and early 9-4 lead. The Blue Angels (1-0), however, closed the period on a 4-2 scoring run to cut the deficit to 11-8.
The second quarter was tightly contested, as GAHS senior Hunter Copley’s three-pointer knotted the contest at 20-20 with 2:02 remaining in the half. From there, the Blue Angels outscored the visitors 4-2 to carry a 24-22 lead into the break.
Gallia Academy opened the third quarter with 7-0 scoring run to take a 31-22 advantage with 5:22 remaining in the period. The Lady Rebels, however, ended the quarter with a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 33-32 entering the finale.
Both teams had difficulty from the field early in the fourth quarter, as RVHS grabbed the lead at 36-33, with 6:43 remaining in the finale.
Gallia Academy, however, utilized a 15-10 scoring run, capped off by a three-point play by Copley with 34 seconds remaining, to regain the advantage at 48-46.
GAHS never again trailed in the contest en route to the three-point, 51-48 victory.
“We came in with high expectations,” GAHS head coach Jordan Deel said. “River Valley came in ready to play. They came in here and gave us a fight. The game was back and forth, for our girls we have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball. We had a lot of turnovers that put us in tough situations and forced us to make free throws. We have improve on possession and making our free throws. Overall, we gutted it out. It feels great to get that first coaching win, but all the credit goes to the girls. They played hard and we came away from the victory.”
For second-year RVHS head coach Stephen Roderick, the setback was something for his team to continue to learn and improve from.
“The improvement is there,” Roderick said. “But we really wanted to get this one. Being a county rivalry game, we wanted that win. The girls aren’t used to being in those close contests and we made some mistakes at the end that costs us. We can definitely take this and build some momentum from this. We had them on the ropes, but I think where our inexperience being in that position came into play. Not having the instinct to put the foot on the gas if you will. My hats off to Gallia Academy. They had a great game plan and controlled us when they needed to. We gave up a lot of rebounds late in the game. We just need to get more out of our experienced players.”
Gallia Academy edged past RVHS in total rebounds by a margin of 32-26 in the contest — with 10 of the host’s boards coming in the finale.
The Blue Angels finished with 19-of-52 (36.5 percent) shooting performance from the field, including 4-of-8 (50 percent) from three-point range. In contrast, the Lady Raiders shot 16-of-48 (33.3 percent) including 2-of-8 (25 percent) from long distance. From the charity stripe, RVHS was 13-of-21 (61.9 percent), while the hosts were 13-of-26 (50 percent).
Alex Barnes led the way for GAHS with 15 points, including a 5-0f-8 performance from the free throw line, while Copley followed with 14 points, including three trifectas.
Maddy Petro was next with seven markers, while Brooklyn Hill chipped in six points. Abby Cremeans followed with three points, as Junon Ohmara, Koren Truance and Arianna Jordan each finished with two markers apiece, respectively.
The Lady Raiders were led by senior Kelsey Brown with 12 points, a 6-of-8 performance from the charity stripe. Hannah Jacks was next with 10 points, while Lauren Twyman added eight markers, including one trifecta.
Beth Gillman finished with five points, including one three-pointer, as Savannah Reese followed with four markers. Kaylee Tucker had one trifecta, while Sierra Somerville, Kaylee Gillman and Cierra Roberts rounded out the scoring for RVHS with two points apiece, respectively.
The Lady Raiders will look to avenge the setback when the two squads meet on Dec. 17 in Bidwell.
Up next for River Valley, a home date with Jackson on Thursday.
The Blue Angels also return to the hardwood on Thursday, as they visit Point Pleasant.
Scott Jones can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext 2106.