BIDWELL, Ohio — They crossed the bridge … and turned a corner.
The Point Pleasant boys basketball team forced 20 turnovers and made a 22-17 fourth quarter run Friday night to secure its second straight victory with a 50-45 decision over host River Valley in a non-conference matchup in Gallia County.
The visiting Big Blacks (2-3) nailed four trifectas in the first four minutes while building a 15-8 first quarter lead, but the Raiders (2-6) answered with an 11-5 surge to close to within a single point with 59 seconds left in the half.
Eric Chapman converted a basket with 48 seconds remaining that allowed the Red and Black to extend their edge back out to 22-19, but Jordan Lambert converted an old-fashioned 3-point play following an offensive putback with 32.1 seconds left — ultimately tying things at 22-all entering the break.
Trey Peck converted a layup 16 seconds into the third for a Point 24-22 lead, but the Silver and Black retaliated with six straight points from Lambert while taking their largest lead of the game at 28-24 with 3:31 remaining.
The Raiders, however, didn’t score a point over the rest of the third stanza … and Point Pleasant snapped a 4-plus minute scoreless drought with four straight points over the final 3:10 for a 28-all contest entering the finale.
Hunter Bush broke the tie and gave the guests a permanent lead with a pair of free throws at the 6:49 mark of the fourth, which also sparked a 14-5 surge that led to Point’s largest lead of the night at 42-33 with 1:45 remaining.
River Valley made one last push as Brandon Call capped a 12-5 run with a trifecta with 27 seconds left, closing the gap down to 47-45.
Braxton Yates made the second of two free throw attempts for a 3-point game with 19.3 ticks remaining, but the final Raider possession resulted in a turnover that led to a Kyelar Morrow run-out layup with five seconds left.
A 1-3-1 extended zone proved to be the difference-maker by night’s end, with the Big Blacks committing four fewer turnovers and making five more free throw attempts.
Both teams made 17 total field goals, including five trifectas apiece. Point Pleasant also claimed a 28-27 advantage on the boards, which included a slim 11-10 edge on the offensive glass.
In a nip-and-tuck battle that made every possession that much more important, PPHS coach Josh Williams believed that his troops collectively won this game with defensive effort.
And with that, the eighth-year mentor believes that this could be the start of something better heading into a new year.
“We played with a lot of energy and we played hard from the start, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. We knew River Valley was going to come at us hard and that they have some pieces to work with, so we really needed to be solid on that end of the court,” Williams said. “To our credit, we had a lot of people step up and do their jobs — guys that normally don’t score a lot of points. We were tenacious with that trap and it led to some opportunities that we were able to take advantage of.
“I also thought that kids did a good job of going out and executing what we put on the board at halftime, particularly in slowing down Lambert. I definitely feel like we took a step in the right direction tonight in finding our identity, and we did it on the defensive end.”
The Raiders, on the other hand, dropped their fifth consecutive decision — including a third straight by five or fewer points.
Second-year RVHS coach Brett Bostic noted that he knows he sounds like a broken record over the last few weeks, but it’s hard to complain when you have a 1-possession game with less than 30 seconds left in regulation.
Bostic, however, needs this group to keep working through these growing pains. He also believes that different outcomes aren’t too far down the road.
“We had some struggles in the beginning with that 1-3-1, and give credit to Coach Williams for having his kids ready to go because it gave us fits,” Bostic said. “We matched that intensity here and there, but it goes back to the same thing I’ve said a few times of late. It comes down to us not getting a bucket here or a stop there, or a turnover at a critical point in the game. The effort was there again and we were competitive down to the end, but it’s those little things that are coming back to get us. It’s the difference in us taking that next step.”
Bush — who was limited to just two points in the middle frames — led the Big Blacks with 18 points, followed by Yates with 13 points and Chapman with seven markers.
Peck was next with four points, with Morrow and McKeehan Justus each contributing three points. Aidan Sang completed the winning tally with two points. PPHS was 11-of-19 at the free throw line for 58 percent.
Lambert paced the hosts with a game-high 23 points, followed by Call with 12 points and Mason Rhodes with six markers.
Dylan Fulks and Chase Caldwell completed things for RVHS with two points apiece. The Raiders were 6-of-13 at the charity stripe for 46 percent.
River Valley returns to action Monday when it travels to Oak Hill for a non-conference matchup at 7 p.m.
Point Pleasant doesn’t come back to the hardwood until after the new year as it hosts Gallia Academy on Saturday, Jan. 4.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.