MASON, W.Va. — The defenses stepped up, making free throws all the more relevant.
The Wahama girls basketball team netted 14 more charity tosses to offset a pair of cold-shooting performances Thursday night during a 38-33 victory over visiting Eastern in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup at Gary Clark Couty in Mason County.
Neither the Lady Eagles (4-8, 2-6 TVC Hocking) nor the host Lady Falcons (5-3, 5-3) shot better than 30 percent from the field, but the Red and White ultimately made their living at the free throw line.
Wahama ended up going 20-of-38 at the charity stripe over the course of 32 minutes, while the Green and White managed a 6-of-9 effort at the line.
There were five ties and seven lead changes in regulation, most of which occurred during the second half of action.
Tied at 29-all in the fourth quarter, Hannah Rose converted the eventual game-winning basket with 2:43 remaining. That bucket also sparked a 9-4 surge the rest of the way, allowing Wahama to sneak away with the 5-point triumph.
The Lady Falcons netted 8-of-14 free throws as part of 14-8 fourth quarter run that overturned a 25-24 deficit entering the frame.
Despite attempting 11 fewer shots from the floor than Eastern, WHS coach James Toth believed that his girls were able to win this game because of their fourth quarter energy … rather it was getting to the stripe or making a stop.
“This was a game that really could have gone either way. We missed some shots that we should have made and I felt like we really weren’t on top of our game tonight, but Eastern also had a whole lot to do with that,” Toth said. “Both teams played well enough to win and they out-quicked us for most of the game, but our girls found a way to get it done in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s a win … and we’ll take it.”
After building a 10-6 first quarter lead that increased to as much as 15-9 late in the second, Eastern was able to enter the break with a 17-14 edge.
The Lady Eagles probably had chances slip away after limiting the hosts to just three field goals while also forcing 10 turnovers. The guests, conversely, had only two miscues at the break.
Eastern, however, had eight turnovers in the third quarter and committed 15 turnovers after halftime, yet somehow found itself clinging to a 27-25 lead with under four minutes left.
EHS shot a higher percentage from the field, committed fewer turnovers and didn’t allow a single 3-pointer, but Wahama still managed to get the win.
Sometimes, as EHS coach Chuck Robinson mentioned afterwards, you just cannot catch a lucky bounce down the stretch.
“It’s not the first time that we’ve let a halftime lead get away this year, but I still think we are getting better at taking care of things over the course of a game. We’re young, but we are definitely showing improvement,” Robinson said. “We put together three-plus quarters of solid basketball in a spirited environment. Our kids got a little rattled and didn’t show enough patience at times on the offensive end, but the girls gave a great effort. Things just didn’t end up going our way.”
Wahama helped its cause by claiming a 43-26 advantage in rebounds, including a 15-7 edge on the offensive glass. The hosts committed 21 of the 38 turnovers in the contest.
The Lady Falcons made 9-of-39 shot attempts for 23 percent, including misses on all five of their 3-point attempts.
Rose led Wahama with a game-high 19 points, followed by Emma Gibbs with six points and Torre VanMatre with five markers. Amber Wolfe and Lauren Noble also added four points apiece to complete the winning tally.
Gibbs hauled in a game-high 17 rebounds to go along with three blocked shots. Noble and Wolfe also grabbed eight and seven caroms, respectively.
Wahama’s biggest lead of the game came at 38-31 with 45.1 seconds remaining in regulation.
Eastern netted 13-of-50 field goal attempts for 26 percent, including a 1-of-12 effort from behind the arc for eight percent.
Olivia Barber led the Lady Eagles with 13 points and eight rebounds, followed by Erica Durst with 12 markers. Sydney Reynolds, Kennadi Rockhold, Jen Parker and Whitney Durst wrapped up the EHS scoring with two points each.
Wahama returns to action Wednesday when it travels to Meigs for a non-conference matchup at 7 p.m.
Eastern is back on the hardwood Monday when it travels to Trimble for a TVC Hocking contest at 6:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.