POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — It was like déjà vu in reverse … except for the final outcome.
That part was just good old-fashioned déjà vu.
For the second time this season, visiting Sissonville lost a lead in the final seconds of regulation and ultimately dropped a one-point decision to the Point Pleasant boys basketball team on Tuesday night 75-74 in the opening round of the Class AA Region IV, Section 1 tournament held at The Dungeon in Mason County.
The fourth-seeded Big Blacks (8-15) were down 12-0 barely over two minutes into regulation and trailed by as many as 18 points with 3:51 left in the fourth, but the hosts ultimately made an 18-0 charge over the final 2:53 while rallying back for a 75-74 edge with 22 seconds remaining.
The fifth-seeded Indians (4-18) had multiple opportunities to reclaim the lead down the stretch, particularly after PPHS missed a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds left. The guests, however, came up short on three different possessions — allowing Point Pleasant to advance with the one-point outcome.
The Big Blacks squandered a 20-point third quarter lead against SHS in the first matchup at Point back on Feb. 12, but PPHS ultimately used a Bradyn Canterbury layup with five seconds left to wrap up the 70-69 triumph.
Tuesday night, Kyelar Morrow played the role of hero — and did so in back-to-back capacity.
Trailing 74-69 with 1:05 left, Morrow nailed a trifecta with 38 seconds left to close the gap down to two points. The Big Blacks followed with a steal and found Morrow again with an open look around the wing.
Morrow’s 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining also found the bottom of the net, allowing the hosts to secure a permanent cushion at 75-74.
Sissonville’s ensuing possession resulted in a pair of shot attempts and a foul that put Braxton Yates at the line for a pair of free throws.
The junior missed both attempts with 3.3 seconds remaining, and Will Hackney managed to get a desperation heave off from around midcourt. The shot, however, missed its mark as the buzzer sounded, giving Point Pleasant a date at top-seeded Nitro on Thursday at 7 p.m.
In a game that featured eight ties and 10 lead changes over the course of 32 minutes, Point Pleasant never led by more than five points the entire way.
Sissonville, on the other hand, led by a dozen points in the first half and held 18-point leads on three different occasions in the fourth quarter.
Point Pleasant also snapped a two-game losing skid and has now won six of its last nine contests overall.
It was an exhausting night for PPHS coach Josh Williams, who acknowledged that he came real close to pulling his starters down 74-57 with 2:54 remaining.
He didn’t, and he was real glad that he chose to let his troops keep on battling.
And because he trusted in his players, Point Pleasant was able to secure its first postseason victory in six years — dating back to the 2012-13 campaign.
“Our kids just made a heck of an effort there at the end. It was a game of runs, and both teams had good moments and bad moments. We just happened to make our big run when we needed it most,” Williams said. “I came close to pulling the plug and putting the seniors in to finish it off, but we challenged our kids during a timeout with under four left. We started penetrating and finding the open man, and our defense started picking up as shots started falling. We cut it to five with just over a minute left, then Kyelar (Morrow) hit those threes and we had all of the momentum.
“As I said at the beginning of the year, we have a young team. We’ve grown a lot this year and tonight is just another good sign of how far we’ve come. We have a big test with Nitro and a lot of things to fix between now and Thursday, but at least we do have the opportunity to play again. It will be a good experience for us.”
The Indians scored the first seven points of regulation in just under 90 seconds and were ahead 12-0 following a Hackney basket at the 5:49 mark of the first, but Point countered with a 22-7 charge that resulted in its first lead of the night.
Aidan Sang broke a 19-all tie with a trifecta with 17 seconds remaining for a 22-19 edge, but Brodden Danberry added a basket just before the period ended to cut the lead down to 22-21.
There were five ties and six lead changes alone in the second frame, and neither squad led by more than a single possession. The guests led 32-29 with 3:58 remaining in the half, while Point took a 40-38 edge with 56 seconds left before both teams enter the break knotted up at 40-all.
The Big Blacks opened the second half by hitting 2-of-4 shot attempts as part of a 7-5 run, with Hunter Bush capping the run with a pair of free throws with 6:14 showing in the third canto.
The hosts missed their next eight shot attempts and committed three turnovers over the next six minutes, and Sissonville answered by hitting 6-of-9 shot attempts as part of an 18-0 surge that led to a 63-47 advantage with 6.9 seconds left.
Trey Peck managed to end Point’s quarter on a positive note, however, as his shot attempt went down just before the buzzer sounded — allowing PPHS to close to within 63-49 entering the finale.
Danberry gave the guests their largest lead of 71-53 with a basket at the 3:51 mark, but Point countered with a small 4-3 spurt to close to within 74-57 with 2:54 remaining.
Bush hit a trifecta 16 seconds later, then converted a free throw after a foul was called on a drive to the basket. The SHS player that picked up the foul also drew a technical foul, and Yates nailed both charity tosses to whittle the deficit down to 74-63 with 2:29 remaining.
Morrow followed 11 seconds later with a trifecta that cut the lead down to eight, then Yates buried a 3-pointer with 1:05 left for a 74-69 deficit.
Sissonville committed seven turnovers in the second half, all of which came in the fourth quarter. Point was also 7-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-6 from behind the arc, over the final eight minutes of play.
The Big Blacks netted 27-of-61 field goal attempts for 44 percent, including a 12-of-27 effort from behind the arc for 44 percent. The hosts were also 9-of-17 at the free throw line for 53 percent.
Bush paced Point Pleasant with a game-high 31 points, followed by Morrow with 28 points and Yates with 11 markers. Sang and Peck completed the winning tally with three and two points, respectively.
The Indians made 30 total field goals — including nine trifectas — and also went 5-of-11 at the stripe for 45 percent.
Hackney led the guests with 27 points, followed by Danberry with 18 points and Watson Mosteller with 16 markers. Dylan Lucas was next with seven points, while Chance Jones and Wyatt Ervin completed the tally with three points each.
Point Pleasant had been eliminated by Sissonville in each of the last two postseasons.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.