JACKSON, Ohio — The Spartans won this 32-minute battle in less than five.
Fourth-seeded Alexander scored the first 15 points of regulation and never looked back Tuesday night en route to a 68-32 victory over 13th-seeded River Valley in a Division III sectional semifinal boys basketball contest at Jackson High School.
The visiting Raiders (5-18) had four turnovers and missed four shot attempts during their first eight possessions, while the Spartans (18-5) netted six of their first 10 field goal tries in establishing a 15-0 cushion at the 3:29 mark of the first period.
RVHS countered with consecutive baskets over the next 90 seconds to close back to within 15-5, but ultimately never came closer the rest of the way.
The hosts retaliated with the final five points of the first quarter for a 20-5 advantage, then AHS reeled off another 10 straight points to start the second frame for a commanding 30-5 lead with 5:07 remaining in the opening half.
The Silver and Black, however, ended the second canto with a 9-2 surge to pull within 32-14 at the break.
Alexander quickly recaptured its momentum after the break as Mason Chapman nailed four consecutive trifectas as a part of a 12-2 run to start the third stanza, making it a 44-16 contest with 4:47 remaining. AHS followed by closing the period on a 15-5 run to secure a 59-21 edge headed into the finale.
The Raiders twice pulled to within 29 points down the stretch — the last of which occurred at 61-32 with 1:59 left — but AHS ended regulation with a 7-0 run to wrap up the 36-point outcome.
The Spartans shot 54 percent from the field (25-of-46) through three quarters while also limiting RVHS to single digits in each of those first three periods of play. The Raiders, conversely, netted only 8-of-33 shot attempts (24 percent) and committed 13 turnovers before the start of the final period.
River Valley coach Jeremy Peck praised his troops for fighting until the bitter end, but the second-year mentor was quick to acknowledge that the big deficit early on was simply too much to climb out of.
“We came out dead and got in way too deep of a hole. We tried to claw our way out of it and picked up our intensity the rest of the way, but it was too late,” Peck said. “Hat’s off to Alexander because they had a good game plan tonight and executed it from the opening tip. I can’t take away from my boys’ effort in the second half or the fact that they never quit. I am proud of them for that.”
The Spartans — who advance to Friday’s sectional final to face fifth-seeded Minford — improved to 3-0 against the Raiders this winter after previously earning wins of 63-21 and 54-44 within Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division play.
Alexander finished league play as runner-up to Vinton County with a 9-3 mark, while RVHS was last out of seven teams with a 1-11 record.
AHS outrebounded the guests by a 34-26 overall margin, with both teams hauling in eight offensive caroms. River Valley ended the game with 19 turnovers, while the Red, Black and White committed 11 turnovers in the triumph.
The Raiders connected on 12-of-44 field goal attempts for 27 percent, including a 3-of-15 effort from behind the arc for 20 percent. The guests were also 5-of-11 at the charity stripe for 45 percent.
Tyler Twyman led RVHS with 11 points, followed by Jacob Dovenbarger with 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Kirk Morrow was next with with six points, while Mark Wray and Haiden Burdette respectively rounded out the River Valley tally with three and two markers.
Twyman, Morrow, Wray, Burdette, Jacob Morris and Dayton Hardway were the six seniors participating in their final basketball contest in the Silver and Black.
“This senior group is a class that is really going to be hard to replace,” Peck said. “They’ve been here with me when I started and it’s definitely tough to see things end for them this way. Those guys are very special to me and I will miss having them around.”
The Spartans netted 29-of-60 field goal attempts for 48 percent, including an 8-of-22 effort from behind the arc for 36 percent. The hosts were also 2-of-5 at the charity stripe for 40 percent.
Chapman — who hit five trifectas in the third canto and seven overall — led Alexander with a game-high 23 points, followed by Seth Richardson with 12 points and Chace Harris with 10 markers. Jake Weaver and Cory Chapman were next with six points each, while Taylor Kimbrough added three markers.
Kyle Howard, Lukas Thompson, Luke Fish and Wyatt Radford rounded out the winning tally with two points apiece. Chapman also had a team-best seven rebounds for the Spartans.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.