ASHTON, W.Va. — The big boys went to their big boys … and it ultimately proved to be big.
Visiting Point Pleasant built a 10-point lead in the first half, but needed a 13-12 fourth quarter run to hang on Friday night for a thrilling 55-54 victory over the Hannan boys basketball team in a matchup of Mason County programs.
The Big Blacks (2-15) snapped a 13-game losing skid by utilizing their interior size advantage, which helped the guests build 29-19 advantage with 1:18 remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats (6-9), however, trimmed their halftime deficit down to eight points, then made a furious 22-9 surge over the next eight minutes to secure their largest lead of the night at 42-38 with 1:21 left in the third.
The Red and Black rallied with four straight points to end the third period knotted at 42-all, then traded 10 points apiece en route to a 52-all contest with 1:27 left in regulation.
Point freshman Malik Butler drilled a trifecta with 1:07 remaining, allowing the guests to take a permanent lead at 55-52. Devrick Burris answered with two free throws to close back to within a point (55-54) with 8.9 seconds left.
The Blue and White had to commit multiple fouls over the remainder of the game due to Point Pleasant not being in the bonus, but the hosts caught a bad break when a Point free throw attempt rimmed out and ended up out of bounds.
Hannan ended up with possession of the ball 94-feet away from its own rim and only two-tenths of a second remained on the clock, meaning that the Wildcats could score on a tip-in with the limited time left.
Hannan ended up getting the inbounds pass about three-quarters of the way down the floor, but a legal shot attempt was generated in time — allowing the Big Blacks to pick up their first victory of the 2018 campaign.
There were seven ties and 18 lead changes throughout the course of the night, with both teams holding leads on nine separate occasions. Each squad also led in each of the four quarter of regulation.
The Big Blacks made twice as many field goals in the first half (12-6) as Hannan did, which aided the guests in building a 29-21 cushion at the break. The Wildcats, however, made half of their field goals and trifectas in the third quarter — which led to the 21-13 run that ended up resulting in a 42-all tie headed into the fourth.
Given the team’s losing skid, youth and playing in a spirited road environment, PPHS coach Josh Williams noted afterwards that it would have been real easy for his troops to get rattled at some point over the course of 32 minutes.
They didn’t … and that was the thing that Williams was most proud of afterwards.
“This isn’t an environment that our young guys are used to being in, given the county matchup and being on the road. The biggest thing we told them coming in was to remain calm and keep their heads,” Williams said. “We knew that Hannan had some capable pieces and that it was going to be a game of runs, but I’m proud of my kids because they never folded, they continued to battle and they executed the game plan over the course of the game.
“We showed signs of growth and maturity tonight, and it certainly feels good to get back into the win column — especially in a competitive game like this one was. We’ll enjoy this one for what it is now, but we need to stay hungry and be ready to go back to work.”
For HHS coach Becky Ferrell, it was a night of heartbreak and pride all at the same time. The first-year mentor noted that her team couldn’t have performed much better against a sizably larger program … but not getting a win was a bit of a letdown after such a solid effort.
“For a small single-A going against a big double-A, I thought we played really well,” Ferrell said. “It was a great home atmosphere that I think both teams enjoyed. It was a good game, we just came up a little short. That’s the tough part.”
Neither squad led by more than a possession in the opening frame, which featured one tie and seven lead changes. Point Pleasant made a small 3-0 run over the final 1:10 of the first to secure an 11-9 edge through eight minutes of play.
The Wildcats answered with three straight points to start the second frame, taking their final first half lead at 12-11 after a Dalton Coleman free throw with 7:50 remaining.
Kade Oliver converted eight points inside as part of an 18-9 run over the rest of the period, allowing the Red and Black to take a three-possession cushion into the intermission.
Hannan went 8-of-17 from the field in the third quarter, with Malachi Cade erupting for 16 points as part of a 21-13 charge that evened things up at 42 headed into the finale.
PPHS rallied back from a 47-44 deficit to tie things up at 48 with 3:39 remaining, then ultimately never trailed again after breaking away and taking its largest fourth quarter lead at 52-48.
Coleman managed to cap a 4-0 run that tied things at 52-all with 1:27 left, setting up the late-game dramatics.
Point Pleasant outrebounded the hosts by a 36-33 overall margin, but the Wildcats claimed a 15-12 edge on the offensive glass. The Big Blacks also committed 15 of the 25 turnovers in the contest, and HHS was error-free during its pivotal third quarter run.
The guests made 24-of-57 field goal attempts for 42 percent, including a 5-of-18 effort from three-point range for 28 percent. The Red and Black were also 2-of-9 at the free throw line for 22 percent.
Oliver led PPHS with a double-double effort of 19 points and 20 rebounds, followed by Casey Lowery with 14 points — which included four trifectas. Butler was next with nine points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter.
Trace Derenberger contributed eight points, while Kyle Martin and Hunter Bush chipped in two points apiece. Evan Cobb completed the winning tally with one point.
Derenberger followed Oliver with six rebounds, while Butler and Bush each hauled in three caroms.
The Wildcats netted 16-of-56 shot attempts for 29 percent, including a 6-of-22 effort from behind the arc for 27 percent. The hosts were also 16-of-23 at the charity stripe for 70 percent.
Cade paced HHS with a game-high 31 points, followed by Coleman with a double-double performance of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Logan Nibert, Matthew Qualls, Devrick Burris and Justis Powers-Cupp completed the scoring with two markers apiece.
Cade followed Coleman with seven rebounds and Andrew Gillispie grabbed six caroms. Nibert also hauled in four boards in the setback.
Hannan has now lost six consecutive decisions to Point Pleasant in the head-to-head series. The Wildcats last defeated PPHS over a decade ago after posting a 63-56 win at HHS back on Jan. 15, 2008.
Point Pleasant hosted River Valley on Saturday and returns to action Tuesday when it hosts Nitro at 7 p.m.
Hannan returns to the court on Tuesday when it travels to Gallipolis for a non-conference matchup with Ohio Valley Christian at 7:30 p.m.
NOTE: Due to an early deadline for the weekend edition, this story will appear in the Tuesday sports editions of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.