GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Good starts made all the difference in the end.
The Ohio Valley Christian boys basketball team outscored visiting Wood County Christian by a 35-15 overall margin in the opening quarter of each half and eventually held on for a 52-48 non-conference victory Tuesday night in the Old French City.
The Defenders (9-8) led all but 3:23 of regulation as the hosts hit seven of their first 10 shot attempts while surging out to a 16-4 cushion five minutes into regulation, but the Wildcats (5-15) countered with a small 6-2 run to close out the period for an 18-10 deficit through eight minutes of play.
Andrew Dubs returned the OVCS lead to double digits (20-10) with a basket at the 6:19 mark, but the Purple and Gold answered with an 11-3 surge over the next over the next five-plus minutes to close to within 23-21 with 1:32 remaining.
Trey Davis buried a trifecta with 53 seconds left, giving WCCS its first lead of the night at 24-23. That slim edge held up headed into the break.
Both teams traded baskets and leads a minute into the second half, but Hollis Morrison gave the Blue and White a permanent lead with 6:49 left in the third as his basket made it a 28-27 contest.
Ohio Valley Christian followed with a 12-2 charge over the final 5:10 of the stanza and also held WCCS without a point over the final 4:43 of the third, allowing the hosts to secure a comfortable 40-29 cushion headed into the finale.
D.J. Spencer capped a 13-4 Wildcat run with a basket at the 4:24 mark that cut the deficit down to 44-42, but the guests were ultimately never closer the rest of the way.
The Defenders stretched their lead back out to six points on three different occasions while closing regulation with a small 8-6 run that wrapped up the four-point outcome.
Ohio Valley Christian had seven different players reach the scoring column and the hosts also forced 17 of the 29 turnovers in the contest. The Defenders also claimed a season sweep of WCCS after posting a narrow 58-57 decision in Williamstown back on December 20.
It was far from a perfect night for the Blue and White, but OVCS coach Steve Rice was pleased with the final outcome … and how his troops ultimately went about getting to that final destination.
“We’ve been a little flat over the last few games defensively, so we were really focused on our intensity coming into tonight’s game. I thought we showed good intensity in the first and third quarters, but we were a little lacking there in the second and fourth quarters. Fortunately, we had it when we needed it most,” Rice said. “I’m really proud of the effort and I am very happy that a lot of different people made significant contributions to this win. We had good energy and we gave it everything we had.”
Wood County Christian outrebounded the hosts by a 27-22 overall margin, which included a 9-3 edge on the offensive glass. Nine of the Wildcats’ 17 turnovers also came in the third quarter.
The Defenders connected on 21-of-49 field goal attempts for 43 percent, including a 5-of-15 effort from three-point range for 33 percent. The hosts were also 5-of-6 at the free throw line for 83 percent.
Despite being held scoreless in the fourth, Austin Ragan paced OVCS with a game-high 19 points — with 11 of those coming in the first half of play. Justin Beaver was next with 10 points, while Morrison and Elijah McDonald respectively added nine and seven markers to the winning cause.
Michael Gruber chipped in four points and Andrew Dubs pitched in two markers. Nate Dubs completed the Ohio Valley Christian tally with a single point. McDonald and Beaver led OVCS with five rebounds apiece.
Wood County Christian netted 20-of-51 shot attempts for 39 percent, including a 6-of-22 effort from behind the arc for 27 percent. The guests were also a perfect 2-of-2 at the charity stripe.
D.J. Spencer led WCCS with 17 points, followed by Landon Mahoney with 14 points and Luke Spencer with 10 points and a team-best six caroms.
Davis was next with three points, while Ethan Thibault and Tyler Hobsly rounded out the visiting tally with two points each. Luke Spencer also hauled in a game-high six boards.
OVCS returns to action Friday when it hosts Covenant Christian in a non-conference contest at approximately 7 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.