GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — That first halftime speech must have been something special.
The Hannan boys basketball team overcame a 2-possession deficit with an 11-0 run to start the second half, ultimately allowing first-year coach John Polcyn to win his varsity debut Tuesday night following a 45-36 decision over host Ohio Valley Christian in a non-conference contest in the Old French City.
The visiting Wildcats (1-0) never led by more than two points during the first half, with both advantages coming in the first quarter of play.
The Defenders (4-7), however, closed the final 61 seconds of the opener with a 4-1 run that gave the hosts an 11-9 edge through eight minutes of play.
OVCS kept that momentum going throughout the second period as the Blue and Gold rallied from a pair of ties to build 4-point leads, the last of which came at 20-16 entering the break.
HHS came out of the intermission by hitting five of its first six shot attempts during an 11-0 charge that turned the halftime deficit into a 27-20 lead with 5:22 remaining in the canto.
The Defenders answered with five consecutive points and closed the gap down to 27-25 with 3:06 left, but the hosts were never closer as the Blue and White ended the final 2:54 with an 8-2 run that resulted in a 35-27 cushion.
Mark Oliver capped a 7-4 OVCS push with a basket at the 6:10 mark, cutting the lead down to 39-34. Hannan scored the next six points as part of a 6-2 stretch run finish, allowing the guests to sneak away with the 9-point triumph.
Neither squad made more than a third of its total shot attempts, but the game itself featured six ties and as many lead changes over the opening 17:36 of regulation.
Ryan Hall’s basket at the 6:24 mark of the third period served as the middle part of that all-important 11-0 run while giving Hannan a permanent lead at 22-20. HHS was 8-of-19 from the floor during a 19-7 third quarter run.
Dylan Starkey gave the guests their first double-digit lead 19 seconds into the fourth as a short jumper resulted in a 37-27 edge.
Casey Lowery added a free throw with 19.4 seconds left in regulation as the Wildcats claimed their largest lead of the night at 45-34.
Ohio Valley Christian held a one-rebound lead at the break, but the guests ultimately claimed a 38-33 advantage on the boards — including a 14-13 edge on the offensive glass. The hosts also committed 16 of the 30 turnovers in the contest.
The Wildcats made 18-of-55 shot attempts for 33 percent, including a 2-of-11 effort from behind the arc for 18 percent. HHS was also a perfect 7-of-7 at the free throw line.
Lowery led Hannan with a game-high 21 points, followed by Hall with nine points and a game-high 22 rebounds. Chandler Starkey was next with eight points, while Logan Barker and Justin Rainey respectively closed out the winning tally with four and three markers.
OVCS netted 15-of-53 field goal attempts for 28 percent, including a 1-of-11 effort from 3-point range for nine percent. The hosts also went 5-of-10 at the charity stripe for 50 percent.
Oliver paced the Defenders with a double-double effort of 20 points and 15 rebounds, followed by Conner Walter with a double-double performance of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Joel Daugherty, Bradley Haley and Austin Beaver completed the scoring with two points each.
Hannan returns to action Friday when it welcomes Sherman in its home debut at 7 p.m.
The Defenders are back on the hardwood Saturday when they travel to Mercerville for a repeat matchup with South Gallia at 7 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.