GREENFIELD, Ohio — The layoff showed itself at exactly the wrong time.
The River Valley girls basketball team made an impressive return to the hardwood after two weeks of quarantine, but sixth-seeded McClain ultimately had more left down the stretch Friday night during a 52-34 victory in a Division II sectional final held at MHS in Highland County.
The 11th-seeded Lady Raiders (11-9) made three of their first five shot attempts while building a 7-0 lead five minutes in and eventually held a 14-4 edge after one quarter of play.
The Lady Tigers (16-4), however, countered with a 12-1 surge over the opening four minutes of the second frame and took their first lead of the night at 16-15.
RVHS answered with a small 3-2 run and knotted things up at 18-all with 1:54 left in the half, but Kyla Burchett added a basket with 1:02 remaining and gave the Purple and Gold a 20-18 cushion headed into the break.
The Silver and Black fought to tie things up at 20-all and again at 22-all, but Payton Pryor’s offensive putback at the 5:17 mark of the third ultimately gave McClain a permanent lead of 24-22. MHS closed the canto with an 8-3 push and secured a 32-25 advantage entering the finale.
The Lady Raiders were never closer as a Brianna Weller free throw gave the hosts their first double-digit lead of 35-25 with 6:35 left in regulation.
Lauren Twyman converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 5:52 left to close River Valley back to within 38-28, but the Lady Tigers ended things out with a 14-6 spurt to complete the 18-point outcome.
After shooting 60 percent from the field in the opening quarter, the Lady Raiders netted only 7-of-28 shot attempts the rest of the way.
McClain outrebounded the guests by a sizable 42-21 overall margin, including a 17-5 edge on the offensive glass. RVHS also committed 23 of the 39 turnovers in the contest.
The Lady Raiders made 13-of-38 field goal attempts for 34 percent, including a 1-of-8 effort from behind the arc for 13 percent. The guests were also 7-of-19 at the free throw line for 37 percent.
Hannah Jacks paced RVHS with a game-high 19 points, followed by Twyman with seven points and Morissa Barcus with five markers. Emma Truance and Maddie Hall completed the scoring with two points and one point, respectively.
Jacks and Sierra Somerville both hauled in five rebounds apiece to lead River Valley.
McClain netted 16-of-52 shot attempts for 31 percent, including a 3-of-17 performance behind the arc for 18 percent. The hosts were also 17-of-24 at the charity stripe for 71 percent.
Weller led MHS with 14 points, followed by Iva Easter with 10 points. Pryor and Jaelyn Pitzer were next with seven markers each, while Burchett and Evelyn Van Zant completed the winning tally with five points apiece.
Pryor also hauled in a game-high 13 caroms in the triumph.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.