BIDWELL, Ohio — In a game full of runs, Alexander had just enough left for the sprint to the finish line.
The visiting Lady Spartans erased a 45-44 fourth quarter deficit with a 10-4 surge over the final 6:15 of regulation Thursday night en route to capturing a 54-49 decision over the River Valley girls basketball team in a non-conference matchup in Gallia County.
Both the host Lady Raiders (1-9) and Alexander (2-7) battled through eight ties and 12 lead changes in the contest, with the third quarter being the only time that both teams didn’t lead at least once in a period. The game was also tied in each of the four cantos of play.
The first quarter alone saw five ties and six lead changes between the squads, which led to an 11-all contest with 2:14 remaining in the opening stanza. Alexander, however, closed the final 1:33 of the first on a 7-0 surge to establish an 18-11 after eight minutes of play.
The Lady Spartans opened the second quarter with a basket to take the biggest lead of the night at the 7:28 mark at 20-11, but RVHS countered with a 13-1 charge over the next three minutes to secure its biggest lead of the night at 24-21 with 4:22 left in the half.
Kaylee Koker nailed a three-pointer 10 seconds later to knot the game back up at 24, which sparked an 11-3 run to close out the second period for a 32-27 AHS advantage.
Alexander extended its lead to as much as 40-33 with 3:41 left in the third stanza, but the hosts responded with a 7-0 run over the next two-plus minutes to again pull even at 40-all with 1:07 remaining. Marilyn Rankin sank two free throws with 16 seconds left in the canto to secure the Lady Spartans a 42-40 edge headed into the finale.
Rachael Smith tied the game at 42-all 15 seconds into the fourth, but Sidney Arnold regained the lead for the guests at 44-42 just 20 seconds later. Cady Gilmore followed by giving River Valley its final lead of the night at 45-44 after nailing a trifecta with 6:28 left in regulation.
Alexader, however, countered with a basket from Kendall Meeks at the 6:15 mark for a 46-45 lead, which prompted an 8-0 run over the next four minutes for a 52-45 cushion. The Lady Raiders — who went scoreless for 5:25 after claiming their last lead — never came closer than five points the rest of the way.
River Valley — which has now dropped seven straight decisions — had 13 turnovers in the setback, with five of those coming in the decisive fourth quarter. The Lady Spartans had 19 turnovers in the contest, including 10 in the opening half.
RVHS connected on 19-of-61 field goal attempts for 31 percent, including a 5-of-15 effort from three-point range for 33 percent. The hosts also had 26 rebounds (12 offensive), 13 assists and 12 steals in the contest.
Cady Gilmore led River Valley with a game-high 18 points, but only four of those came in the second half. Courtney Smith was next with eight points, followed by Leia Moore with seven markers and a team-high eight rebounds. Chelsea Copley and Rachael Smith respectively added six and four points in the losing effort.
Shelby Brown tallied three points, Tianna Qualls had two markers and Justyce Stout rounded out the scoring with one point. The Lady Raiders were 6-of-16 at the free throw line for 38 percent.
Marilyn Rankin paced Alexander with 17 points, followed by Kaylee Koker and Makina Milum with nine markers apiece. Kendall Meeks also chipped in eight points for the Lady Spartans, who were 11-of-29 at the charity stripe for 38 percent.