POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Revenge on the road, thanks to some stifling second half defense.
The River Valley boys basketball team — which dropped a 50-45 decision to Point Pleasant on Dec. 27 in Gallia County — avenged that setback on Tuesday at ‘The Dungeon’ in Mason County, holding the hosts to just nine points after halftime to seal a 50-38 victory.
The Big Blacks (4-7) — who had won back-to-back games headed into play — held a 16-15 lead after five ties and a trio of lead changes in the opening period.
PPHS was up by four after a Kyelar Morrow three-pointer to open the second quarter, but River Valley (5-10) scored the next nine points and never trailed again. The hosts fought back to tie it at 29 with 35 seconds left in the half, but a Jordan Lambert free throw gave the Raiders the lead for good 18 seconds later.
River Valley led 32-29 at halftime, and then held Point Pleasant to 0-of-10 from the field in the third, stretching the margin to 39-32 with eight minutes to play.
The Silver and Black led by as many as 14 points in the finale, and settled for a 50-38 victory, ending a three-game skid.
Second-year RVHS head coach Brett Bostic pointed to his team’s defensive intensity, as well as its 36-to-21 rebounding edge as what led to the victory.
“We had a couple tough games on Friday and Saturday, we turn around here on a short week, and we talked to them about intensity,” Bostic said. “Coach Sheets said in there at halftime, ‘guys, let’s pick the intensity up and start playing a little bit. Let’s mix their defenses up a little bit, let’s see what we’ve got, let’s go, let’s play,’ and we did a heck of a job.
“We really concentrated a lot on rebounding, because we wanted control. We talked a lot about defensive pressure, forcing tough shots, and we knew if we played with intensity on defense off the shooters, we’d get a lot of rebounds. We talked about long rebounds, and we talked about trying to get the ball out, the first thing to end a defensive possession is the rebound. We also talked about offensive rebounds, and I think we did an excellent job there.”
Eighth-year Point Pleasant head coach Josh Williams also talked about the Raiders’ intensity, and acknowledged that his squad’s offense just wasn’t in sync.
“I feel like River Valley made all the energy plays tonight,” Williams said. “We had some bright spots defensively, I thought Jovone (Johnson) played pretty well, played hard. I think the kids for the most part played as hard as they could, but I think River Valley just had a different level of wanting it tonight. They beat us down the floor a couple times, and Lambert killed us on the boards and in the paint, we had no answer for him.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get in rhythm all night. Some of the credit goes to their defense, and some falls on us. Every time we needed something big to fall, we were just one step slow. Defensively, overall I don’t think we were that bad, but you just can’t have that kind of output offensively and expect to win.”
The Raiders’ rebounding edge included a 10-to-7 margin on the offensive glass, while the Big Blacks had just nine turnovers, eight fewer than RVHS. The Raiders combined for 14 assists, five steals and a pair of rejections, while the hosts tallied 13 steals, seven assists and one blocked shot.
River Valley hit 21-of-42 (50 percent) field goal attempts, including 4-of-11 (36.4 percent) three-point tries, while Point Pleasant shot 13-of-49 (26.5 percent) from the field, including 5-of-26 (19.2 percent) from deep. Both teams tried 10 foul shots, with RVHS making four and PPHS sinking seven.
Lambert led the Raiders with a double-double of 27 points and 14 rebounds, to go with a game-high five assists. Brandon Call finished with 11 points and six boards in the win, Mason Rhodes added six points, while Cole Young scored four and Dylan Fulks tallied two.
Lambert and Chase Caldwell paced the RVHS defense, each claiming a steal and a block.
PPHS was led by Hunter Bush with 19 points and five rebounds. Trey Peck had nine points and a game-high four steals in the setback, Morrow added eight points and five rebounds, while Eric Chapman finished with two points. Braxton Yates contributed two assists, as well as two steals and a block to the hosts’ cause.
Both teams are slated to return to the court on Friday, with Point Pleasant at George Washington, and River Valley hosting Vinton County.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.