ASHTON, W.Va. — The Wildcats provided a ferociously late charge, but the Defenders ultimately stood their ground.
Visiting Ohio Valley Christian spoiled the Senior Night festivities in a wire-to-wire fashion Tuesday evening following a 56-53 victory over the Hannan boys basketball team in a non-conference matchup in Mason County.
The host Wildcats (2-14) honored seniors Chandler Starkey, Casey Lowery, Kyle Fielder and Chris Exline before the start of the contest, but the Defenders (12-14) countered that emotionally-charged energy by storming out to a quick 6-2 edge two minutes into regulation.
OVCS followed with another 6-2 run that was capped with a Bradley Haley layup with 33 seconds remaining, giving the guests their largest lead of the opening frame at 12-4. Exline answered with a basket just before the buzzer to cut the deficit in half through eight minutes of play.
The Defenders used an 8-4 run over the opening 4:32 to build their first double-digit lead, then claimed their largest lead of the half at 27-14 on a Jeremiah Swab basket with 29 seconds left.
Justin Rainey, however, nailed a trifecta for HHS with 17 ticks left on the clock, which ultimately cut the halftime deficit down to 27-17.
Mark Oliver completed an 11-5 run with a basket at the 2:55 mark of the third stanza, allowing Ohio Valley Christian to secure its largest lead of the game at 38-22.
Starkey capped an 8-0 run with a bucket with 36 seconds showing, allowing the hosts to cut the gap down to 38-30. Haley added a free throw with no time left on the clock as the Defenders took a 9-point cushion into the finale.
Oliver opened the fourth with five straight points while extending the lead back out to 44-30 with 6:07 remaining, but the Wildcats countered a dozen consecutive points over the next three minutes while pulling to within 44-42 with 3:06 left in regulation.
Joel Daugherty capped a quick 6-3 spurt at the 2-minute mark with an old-fashioned 3-pointer, extending the lead back out to 50-45.
Lowery answered with a trifecta six seconds later and sparked an 8-4 run over the next minute-and-a-half, making it a 54-53 contest with 30 seconds to go.
Daugherty converted the front end of two different pairs of free throw attempts the rest of the way to complete the 3-point outcome.
OVCS was also able to salvage a season split after dropping a 45-36 decision in Gallipolis back on Dec. 10, 2019. Hannan — which went 8-of-14 from 3-point range in the second half — dropped its seventh straight decision.
The Defenders outrebounded the hosts by a narrow 43-42 overall margin, but the Wildcats claimed an 11-10 edge on the offensive glass. The guests also committed 11 of the 21 turnovers in the game.
Ohio Valley Christian made 22-of-57 field goal attempts for 39 percent, including a 4-of-8 effort from behind the arc for 50 percent. OVCS was also 8-of-20 at the free throw line for 40 percent.
Oliver paced the Defenders with a double-effort of 30 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Haley with nine points and Daugherty with eight markers. Swab and Austin Beaver completed the winning tally with respective efforts of six and three points.
Conner Walter led the guests with a game-high 15 rebounds and Daugherty also hauled in six boards for the victors.
Hannan made 22-of-63 field goal attempts for 35 percent, including a 9-of-23 effort from 3-point territory for 39 percent. The hosts also missed all four of their free throw tries.
Lowery, Starkey and Rainey led HHS with 14 points apiece, with Starkey and Lowery also recording double-doubles with 13 and 10 rebounds respectively.
Logan Barker was next with five points and Exline added four markers, while Brady Edmunds completed the scoring with two points. Edmunds also grabbed 12 rebounds for the Cats.
Ohio Valley Christian returns to action Friday when it travels to Parkersburg Christian for a non-conference contest at 7:30 p.m.
Hannan returns to the hardwood on Thursday when it travels to Wayne for a non-conference matchup at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.