GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — The Defenders just keep rolling.
The Ohio Valley Christian boys basketball team led for the final 23 minutes of play, on Thursday night in Gallia County, as the Defenders picked up their fifth straight victory, with a 51-42 triumph over Teays Valley Christian.
TVCS (9-5) scored the first five points of the night, but the Defenders (7-2) scored eight of the next nine. The Lions regained the lead at 12-11, with 2:10 left in the first, but OVCS scored the only two points in the final two minutes of the first and led 13-12.
A Teays Valley Christian free throw tied the early in the second period, but OVCS reestablished the lead at the 7:00 mark and never relinquished the advantage. The Lions were held to just one field goal in the second period, as the hosts built a 23-16 halftime lead.
Ohio Valley Christian began the second half with a 6-2 run, pushing the lead to a game-best 11 points. However, the Lions battled back to within four points at 33-29, before OVCS senior Elijah McDonald hit a buzzer-beating trifecta to make the Defender lead 36-29 at the end of the third quarter.
TVCS battled to within four points in the fourth quarter, but OVCS sank 9-of-13 free throws in the period to seal the 51-42 victory.
“Teays Valley is one of our big rivals, I’m excited that we got the win, but I don’t think we played our best,” OVCS head coach Steve Rice said. “It seemed like every time we we made a little run, they made a little run and we let them back into it. I’m hoping that we learn how to finish games a little bit more and not let teams back in it.”
The Lions — who have four players listed at 6-foot-4 or taller — pulled in just two more rebounds (30-28) than the Defenders, whose tallest player is 6-1.
“We challenged the guys before the game to not let them have more than 10 offensive rebounds,” Rice said. “We boxed out well as a team, we didn’t let them have too many second chance opportunities and that really helped us.”
The Defenders won the turnover battle by a narrow 17-18 margin, while holding a 16-to-12 advantage in assists.
For the game, Ohio Valley Christian shot 17-of-46 (37.0 percent) from the field, including 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) from beyond the arc, while TVCS was 17-of-48 (35.4 percent) from the field, including 3-of-15 (20 percent) from beyond the arc. The Defenders made 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) free throw attempts, while the Lions were 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from the stripe.
McDonald — the newest member of the Defenders’ 1,000-point club — led OVCS with 16 points and five assists, followed by Hollis Morrison with 10 points and five assists. Austin Ragan and Justin Beaver both scored nine points, with Ragan posting eight rebounds and four assists, and Beaver adding seven boards.
Asher Peck, Nate Dub and Andrew Dub each scored two points in the win, while Bryce Gruber added one marker. Beaver led the OVCS defense with two steals and one block.
Codee Adkins led the Lions with 11 points, followed by Connor Rooper with nine points and six assists. Andrew Breeding was next with seven points, followed by Jacob Lucas with six, Trent Feazell with four, Jimmy Demuth with three and Devin Danford with two.
Lucas and Demuth led the Lions on the glass with six rebounds each, while Demuth had a game-best six steals.
These teams are scheduled to meet again on January 20, in the Mountaineer State.
Although not on the original schedule, the Defenders will return to action on Tuesday, when they play in a holiday tournament at Ripley.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.