MERCERVILLE, Ohio — Both teams had guts, but only one got the glory.
The South Gallia boys basketball team scored a close 47-46 home victory over the rival River Valley Raiders Friday evening.
The Raiders (1-2) pulled ahead early, getting a 5-0 advantage before the Rebels (1-0) scored their first points in the third minute of the first quarter.
Down 8-3, the Rebels slowly started clawing their way back into the game.
One advantage the Red and Gold had was their defense, getting defensive rebounds to keep River Valley from getting second-chance points, but they still entered the second quarter down 14-8.
After the Raiders got a field goal to start the second quarter, the Rebels got two consecutive 3-pointers to cut the River Valley lead down to two points.
However, the work they did was soon erased after the Silver and Black outscored South Gallia 9-2 in the rest of the quarter, heading into the locker rooms with a 25-16 advantage.
The home team started the third quarter on a 9-2 scoring run to once again cut the Raider lead down to a couple of points.
While South Gallia did well in keeping the game competitive, one area they really struggled with for much of Friday’s game was free throws, landing only two shots from the charity stripe in the third quarter.
Much like the second, the Raiders started to pull away on the scoreboard in the final minutes of the third quarter, going into the last eight minutes up 35-28.
The two squads started the fourth quarter trading baskets, the Raiders matching the Rebels move-for-move.
With under four minutes to go, the Rebels cut the River Valley lead to three points.
After so many close calls, the Rebels finally tied the game after senior Blaike Saunders hit a 3-pointer to deadlock the game at 39-39.
As the minutes ticked away in the fourth, the Rebels maintained their lead, fighting off more than couple comeback attempts by the Raiders.
Despite their early troubles in free throws, the Red and Gold started making them when they really counted, including four-consecutive shots in the final minute.
On the other side, the Raiders also did a decent job at the foul line, even with the South Gallia student section screaming at them from their seats behind the hoop.
Ultimately, even though the road team had the final rebound, they were unable to get that winning basket, scoring the first win for the Rebels in the Travis Elliott era.
In shots, the Raiders held the advantage in both 3-pointers and field goals, outshooting the Rebels 5-4 and 14-13, respectively.
The difference-maker came on the foul line, with the Red and Gold making nine free throws compared to the Silver and Black’s three.
Leading the Rebels in scoring was senior Brayden Hammond, who had two 3-pointers, six field goals and three free throws for a total of 21 points.
Behind him was senior Tristan Saber, who notched three field goals and two free throws for eight points.
Rounding out the Raider scoring were Saunders with five points, Tanner Boothe with five points, Ean Combs with four points, Kyeler Rossitter with three points and Noah Cremeens with one point.
For the Raiders, they were led by junior Jance Lambert, who had two 3-pointers, five field goals and one free throw for 17 points.
Behind him was senior Mason Rhodes, who got two 3-pointers, two field goals and one free throw for 11 points.
Rounding out the Raider scoring were Kade Alderman with 10 points, Gary Truance with six points and Ethan Schultz with two points.
In rebounds, Combs led the Rebels with eight while Alderman led the Raiders with 11.
The Rebels will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when they travel to face the Oak Hill Oaks.
The Raiders will be back on the court at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when they host the Southern Tornadoes.
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Colton Jeffries can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.