BIDWELL, Ohio — One team’s improvement is another team’s struggle.
The River Valley boys basketball team defeated the visiting Southern Tornadoes 55-44 in a non-conference matchup on Tuesday night in Gallia County.
The Tornadoes (0-9) scored the opening bucket of the game off a layup from Clayton Wood at the 6:52 mark in the first quarter. The Raiders (3-9) took control of the contest with a 17-2 run in the middle of the period — led by five points from Kirk Morrow. Morrow and Mark Wray scored the home team’s final four points of the quarter to give River Valley a 21-5 lead after eight minutes.
Southern bounced back into the game with a 11-1 run — led by Blake Johnson’s seven points — in the middle of the second quarter. River Valley led a five-point run in the final two minutes of the period to give the Silver and Black a 30-16 edge going into halftime.
The Purple and Gold held a 16-12 rebound advantage over the home squad in the first half, but Southern turned the ball over five times. River Valley committed one turnover in the first 16 minutes. The Raiders shot 10-of-15 field goals (67 percent) after the first two quarters, while Southern shot 7-of-24 from the field (29 percent).
Wood netted a three in the opening seconds of the third quarter to give Southern its first points of the second half. After a Tornadoes bucket, River Valley proceeded on a 7-0 run — led by Dustin Barber’s four points — to pull away from the Purple and Gold. Dylan Smith netted a shot from beyond the arc with 21 seconds left in the period for Southern, but River Valley carried a 40-24 lead going into the finale.
Both teams traded points for much of the fourth quarter. Wray’s seven points in the quarter helped keep the home team out in front. The Tornadoes ended the game on a 11-3 run, but time was not on the Purple and Gold’s side.
River Valley finished the contest shooting 19-of-25 field goals (76 percent), while Southern shot 17-of-32 from the field (53 percent). The Tornadoes outrebounded the Raiders 40-25. The Silver and Black ended the game with six turnovers, while the Tornadoes finished with 12 turnovers.
“Everybody a great game and we played as a team,” River Valley coach Jeremy Peck said. “We didn’t let off the gas. I told them that Southern is like us, if you let them get going, they’ll be back in the ballgame. These boys are hungry, playing as a team and became one family. We’re getting back together. I look for great things the rest of the year for these boys.”
Jarrett McCarley led River Valley with a game-high 13 points, followed by Morrow and Wray with 11 points each. Barber finished the contest with eight points, while Tyler Twyman and Jacob Dovenbarger each contributed six points for the Silver and Black.
“We just get off to a bad start every game we play,” Southern coach Jeff Caldwell said. “It has been like that every game we play. We come out and play defensively and I think we did a decent job defensively to start the game. On offense, we come down, turn it over and we miss some layups. We get ourselves in a hole almost every game and we’ve gotta find a way to get off to a better start.”
Smith led Southern with 12 points. Johnson finished with eight points, while Wood had seven points. Weston Thorla contributed six points, followed by Crenson Rogers and Trey Pickens with five points apiece. Brayden Cunningham contributed one point for the Tornadoes.
Both squads will be back in action on Jan. 9 when River Valley hosts South Gallia and Southern hosts Belpre.
Donald Lambert can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106