NELSONVILLE, Ohio — Free throws make quite a difference in the outcome of a game.
The River Valley boys basketball team hit 12-of-15 charity tosses during a 25-19 fourth quarter charge Friday night, which resulted in a thrilling 69-66 come-from-behind victory over host Nelsonville-York in a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division matchup in Athens County.
The Raiders (8-13, 3-8 TVC Ohio) didn’t attempt a single freebie in the first half. Early on, however, RVHS didn’t need any charity tosses, as the guests got six points from Ian Polcyn and five markers from Dustin Barber while establishing a 17-10 first quarter advantage.
The Buckeyes (10-11, 1-10) countered as Ethan Bohyer and Aron Davis combined for 13 points as part of a 20-10 surge, which allowed the Orange and Brown to turn an early three-possession deficit into a 30-27 halftime edge.
Davis scored a dozen points for NYHS and Jarret McCarley netted eight points for River Valley in the third canto, with both teams trading 17 points over that span for a 47-44 contest headed into the finale.
Each squad hit six field goals down the stretch run, but the final difference came at the stripe — even though the Buckeyes were perfect on all five of their fourth quarter free throw attempts.
McCarley was almost solely responsible for the victory at the line after converting 9-of-10 attempts in the fourth, which also included the Raiders’ final nine points of regulation.
River Valley claimed its first season sweep of the year after also posting a 64-38 win over NYHS back on January 20 in Bidwell. The Silver and Black also snapped a two-game losing skid with the decision.
The guests made three of their 26 total field goals from behind the arc and also finished the night 14-of-18 overall at the free throw line for 78 percent.
McCarley led the Raiders with 23 points, followed by Jacob Dovenbarger with 19 points and Barber with 15 markers. Polcyn also added 11 points to the winning cause, while Tre Craycraft rounded out the RVHS tally with a single point.
Nelsonville-York netted six of its 27 total field goals from three-point range and also went 6-of-9 at the charity stripe for 67 percent.
Davis paced the hosts with a game-high 28 points, followed by Bohyer with 15 points and Ronnie Wend with eight markers. Christian Berry and Justin Perry respectively chipped in seven and five points, while Levi Wickmann and Patrick Gail rounded things out with two markers and one point.
River Valley completes both league and regular season play next Friday when it travels to Rocksprings for a 7 p.m. contest with Meigs.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.