MASON, W.Va. — It ended up being worth the wait.
The Wahama girls basketball team opened its 2019-20 campaign in dramatic fashion Thursday night after using a 7-4 run in overtime to claim a 48-45 victory over visiting Belpre in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup at Gary Clark Court in Mason County.
The game featured eight ties and 16 lead changes over the course of 36 minutes, with neither squad leading by more than two possessions throughout the night.
Tied at 41 at the end of regulation, the Lady Falcons (1-0, 1-0 TVC Hocking) never trailed in the extra 4-minute session and took a permanent lead when Emma Gibbs converted an offensive rebound with 2:19 remaining, making it a 46-44 contest.
The Lady Golden Eagles (0-2, 0-2) closed to within a point following an Abby Lafatch free throw with 1:06 left, but Hannah Rose nailed both ends of a 1-and-1 situation with 36.9 seconds remaining for a 48-45 edge.
BHS managed a pair of 3-point attempts that could have tied the game in the waning moments, but both missed the mark. The final miss came back to the floor as the horn sounded, allowing the Red and White to sneak away with the one possession triumph.
Afterwards, James Toth talked about the quality of his first varsity girls basketball victory as Wahama head coach.
As he noted, it simply came down to his troops working together and making plays at the right time — something the Lady Falcons can build on moving forward.
“This was a game of two strong-willed teams and I couldn’t be prouder of our girls for finding a way to win this game. At the end of the night, I think we just wanted it a little more and we went out and got it,” Toth said. “We showed a lot of positives tonight and we are only going to get better as the season goes on, so this is a great way to get things started. This was a total team win.”
There were three lead changes and a single tie in the opening eight minutes of play, with Wahama holding a slim 6-5 edge at the end of the first quarter.
Neither team led by more than two points throughout the second frame, a span that witnessed four ties and six lead changes overall.
Thanks to a pair of Rose free throws due to a technical foul on the Belpre coach with 6.1 seconds left, the Lady Falcons were able to take a slim 18-17 lead into the break.
The hosts made a 9-4 charge out of the halftime gates and secured a 27-21 advantage with 2:16 remaining, which proved to be the largest lead for either squad in the contest.
Belpre, however, answered as Kyanna Ray capped a 9-2 surge with a field goal with just 31 seconds left for a 30-29 edge.
Both teams traded a field goal over the final 15 seconds, allowing the guests to take a 32-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Eagles capped a quick 5-2 run out of the gates when Curstin Giffin drilled a trifecta at the 5:38 mark, giving BHS its largest lead of the game at 37-33.
The Lady Falcons retaliated with six straight points and held Belpre scoreless for more than five minutes, until Ray drilled a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left for a 40-39 contest.
Wahama took its final lead of regulation at 41-40 on a Gibbs basket with 19.6 seconds left, but the junior missed the and-1 free throw attempt.
Kaitlin Bush was was fouled on the ensuing Belpre possession and missed the front end of a 2-shot free throw attempt, but Bush knocked down the second try and tied things at 41 with 11.5 seconds showing.
Wahama outrebounded the guests by a 32-29 overall margin, but the Lady Eagles claimed a 12-10 edge on the offensive glass. WHS committed 24 turnovers and the Belpre turned the ball over 21 times.
The Lady Falcons made 16-of-43 field goal attempts for 37 percent, including a 1-of-8 effort from behind the arc for 13 percent. The hosts were also an impressive 15-of-18 at the free throw line for 83 percent.
Rose led Wahama with a game-high 19 points, followed by Gibbs with a double-double effort of 10 points and 12 rebounds to go along with four blocked shots.
Mikie Lieving and Amber Wolfe were next with eight and seven points, respectively. Lauren Noble completed the winning tally with four points and also added five rebounds.
Belpre netted 17-of-57 field goal attempts for 30 percent, including a 5-of-23 effort from behind the arc for 22 percent. The Orange and Black made 5-of-11 charity tosses for 45 percent.
Bush led the Lady Eagles with 13 points and Kyna Wadeker followed with a dozen markers, with Ray adding eight points as well.
Lafatch was next with six points and a team-best seven rebounds, followed by Giffin with five points and Halee Williams with one point.
Wahama returns to action Monday when it hosts Southern in a TVC Hocking contest at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.