GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — They left it to Beaver.
Junior Justin Beaver scored a game-high 30 points — nine of which came in the fourth quarter — and the Ohio Valley Christian boys basketball team won its home opener Tuesday night during a 45-40 decision over Covenant in a non-conference contest in Gallia County.
Neither the Defenders (1-2) nor the visiting Eagles (0-2) led by more than seven points throughout the game, which was tightly-contested from start to finish.
The Blue and Gold took a 24-19 lead into halftime and were left clinging to a slim 33-31 edge headed into the finale, where things got a little interesting.
Covenant hit four of its first five shot attempts in the final stanza, allowing the Red and Blue to secure a 40-35 advantage with 5:28 left in regulation.
At that point, Beaver — one of Ohio Valley Christian’s few returning veteran players — took things into his own hands.
Beaver reeled off four consecutive baskets and scored nine of the Defenders’ final 10 points as part of a 10-0 run to close the game out, allowing OVCS to rally back for the five-point triumph.
The Eagles missed their final seven shots of the game and lost the lead with 3:06 left in regulation. Covenant also committed 11 of its 24 turnovers in the final period.
OVCS coach Steve Rice acknowledged Beaver’s stellar play down the stretch, but he was also pleased with the defensive effort for most of the night — particularly the final five-plus minutes of the contest.
“When we went down five there late in the fourth, the guys responded with a sense of urgency. From there, we played like we really wanted to win this game,” Rice said. “I was pleased with the effort and a lot of things that we did tonight, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
“Justin, he’s not used to losing. He felt the game was in his hands and he took it over down the stretch. When we needed it most, he delivered. It was a big night for him and for all of us, getting this first win.”
The Defenders led 12-7 after eight minutes of play, but Covenant responded with eight straight points to start the second frame for a 15-12 edge with 4:07 left until halftime.
The hosts countered with a 12-2 surge over the next three-plus minutes, with Beaver capping the run with a basket with 46 seconds remaining for a 24-17 edge — the largest lead for either squad all evening.
Alec Phelps scored on a putback just before the first half horn sounded, making it a 24-19 contest headed into the break.
The Eagles never led in the third quarter, but forced ties at 24 and again at 31-all. Arden Peck netted a basket with two seconds left to give the hosts a 33-31 edge headed into the fourth canto.
Covenant outrebounded the hosts by a 49-34 overall margin, which included a 16-11 edge on the offensive glass. OVCS committed only 13 turnovers in the triumph.
The Defenders netted 19-of-59 shot attempts for 32 percent, including a 3-of-15 effort from behind the arc for 20 percent.
Beaver added seven rebounds to go along with his game-high 30 points, while Andrew Dubs chipped in a double-double effort of 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Asher Peck and Arden Peck were next with two points apiece, while Bryce Gruber completed the winning tally with one marker. Asher Peck also grabbed nine rebounds.
The Eagles netted 17-of-55 shot attempts for 31 percent, including a 3-of-13 effort from three-point range for 23 percent.
Phelps and Tyler Spence both led CCS with 10 points apiece, with Phelps also adding a team-best 12 rebounds. Ryan Davis and Nate Beilstein were next with seven markers each, while Stephen Manns and Josh Roten completed the scoring with four and two points respectively.
Davis also had 11 caroms and Roten hauled in eight boards in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.