ASHTON, W.Va. — A historic accomplishment … but not the desired result.
Senior Austin Ragan became the eighth Ohio Valley Christian boys basketball player to reach 1,000 career points, but the Defenders ultimately dropped a thrilling 71-69 decision to host Hannan in a non-conference matchup Monday night in Mason County.
Ragan — who entered the game needing 28 points to join the elusive quadruple-digit club — joined the likes of John Keenan, Marshall Hood, T.G. Miller, Adam Holcomb, Bo Pollard, Pete Carman and current teammate Elijah McDonald in accomplishing such an honor with a layup at the 4:04 mark of the fourth quarter … cutting the Hannan lead down to 58-54 at the time.
OVCS (14-10) followed with a Hollis Morrison trifecta 33 seconds later to trim the deficit down to one, but the Wildcats (7-11) — who led the final 9:40 of regulation — countered with a 10-5 run that resulted in a 68-62 cushion with 1:03 left to play.
The Defenders twice closed to within a single point down the stretch, with the last occasion coming with 13 seconds left as a Justin Beaver offensive putback made it a 70-69 contest.
Chandler Starkey netted the second of two free throw attempts to give HHS a 71-69 lead with 6.8 seconds left, then Ragan attempted a long three-pointer just before the buzzer sounded, but the shot was off of its mark.
The Wildcats salvaged a season split after OVCS claimed a 54-46 win in the first contest back on December 15 in Gallipolis. The Defenders also had their four-game winning streak snapped in the process.
It was a bittersweet emotion for Ragan afterwards. On one hand, he accomplished an individual feat that is quite rare. Then again, his achievement came in a setback.
“I’m just thankful for all of my teammates and all of the work that my coaches have put into me over the years. I owe all of this to them,” Ragan said. “We weren’t at full strength, but we left everything out on the floor tonight. This would probably be easier to enjoy right now if we would have won.”
The Defenders were without the service of McDonald, who did not play due to a leg injury. McDonald eclipsed the 1,000-point mark earlier in the season and was averaging 18 points per game.
OVCS, however, had no troubles early on as the guests stormed out to a 12-3 lead, but Hannan answered with seven straight points to close to within 12-10. Beaver hit a trifecta just before the first quarter buzzer, giving the Defenders a 15-10 lead after eight minutes of play.
Ragan capped an 8-4 start to the second canto with a basket at the 5:09 mark, which extended the lead back out to three possessions at 23-14.
The Wildcats retaliated with a 17-7 surge over the finale 4:33 of the half, allowing the hosts to take a slim 31-30 edge into the intermission.
Ohio Valley Christian trailed 38-32 less than two minutes into the third, but rallied with six straight points to tie things up at 38-all with 5:06 remaining in the third.
Andrew Dubs gave OVCS its final lead of the night with a basket at the 2:52 mark, making it a 44-43 contest. Corey Hudnall answered for Hannan with a basket at the 1:40 mark, which sparked a 5-0 run to close out the quarter for a Wildcat 48-44 edge headed into the finale.
The hosts made a 10-5 run to start the fourth, which resulted in their biggest lead of the night at 58-49 with 4:41 remaining. The Defenders outscored HHS 20-13 over the final 4:22 but also trailed the entire way.
Hannan snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Defenders. The Wildcats last beat OVCS by a 43-38 margin in Ashton back on February 21, 2011.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve beaten OVC, so it is good to get over that hump,” HHS coach Ross Thornton said afterwards. “This win also allowed us to eclipse last year’s win total, so that was another positive sign that things are still moving forward in a positive direction. In all reality, this was a big win for us … for a lot of reasons.”
The Wildcats made 10 of their 23 total field goals from behind the arc and also went 15-of-19 at the free throw line for 79 percent.
Hudnall led Hannan with 23 points, followed by Dalton Coleman with 22 points and Malachi Cade with 12 markers. Chandler Starkey was next with nine points, while Matt Qualls and Logan Nibert rounded out the winning tally with respective efforts of three and two points.
The Defenders netted nine of their 28 total field goals from behind the arc and also went 4-of-5 at the free throw line for 80 percent.
Ragan finished the night with a game-high 31 points that included seven trifectas. Morrison was next with 14 points, while Dante Lewis and Andrew Dubs respectively added nine and eight markers.
Beaver chipped in five points and Nate Dubs rounded things out with two markers.
Hannan hosts Meadow Bridge on Thursday, while the Defenders open postseason play this Friday when they host Dayton Temple Christian at 6:30 p.m. in the first round of the OCSAA Southeast Regional tournament.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.