GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — A little rusty, but it still ran great once it warmed up.
The Ohio Valley Christian girls basketball team snapped a four-game losing skid and picked up its first victory of the new year Tuesday night with a 29-13 decision over visiting Wood County Christian in a non-conference contest in the Old French City.
The host Lady Defenders (4-8) trailed 6-0 after eight minutes of play and finally reached the scoring column when Rachel Sargent hit a single free throw with 6:02 left in the half, but Sarah Barnes answered with a trifecta at the 1:57 mark that gave the Lady Wildcats (4-13) their largest lead of the night at 9-1.
Barnes’ bucket not only proved to be the final points for WCCS in the second canto, but the Purple and Gold were also held scoreless over the next 12:17 of play — and OVCS took full advantage of that golden opportunity.
The Blue and White closed the final 1:38 of the second stanza with six consecutive points, with Kristen Durst capping the run with a basket just before the buzzer for a 9-7 halftime deficit.
Both teams went scoreless for the opening five minutes of the third quarter, but the Lady Defenders finally tied things up at nine following a pair of successful technical foul free throw attempts by Emily Childers with three minutes left.
Sargent followed with a basket 10 seconds later for the first OVCS lead of the night at 11-9. The hosts went on to score another nine points over the final two minutes en route to a commanding 20-9 edge headed into the finale.
Abby Banser ended Wood County Christian’s scoreless drought with a free throw at the 5:39 mark for a 22-10 deficit and were never closer than 22-11 six seconds later.
The Lady Defenders twice led by as many as 16 points, which also included the margin of victory.
OVCS claimed a season sweep of the Lady Wildcats after posting a 26-19 win in Williamstown back on December 20.
The hosts had two key starters make triumphant returns back to the court following injuries as Sargent and Childers combined for 23 of Ohio Valley Christian’s 29 points.
With a limited roster and the postseason looming, OVCS coach Chris Burnett admitted that he was very glad to have all of his team back on the floor … even if it took a little time to get things going.
“We started slow and it took some time for the girls to get back into a flow, but we really challenged them to step it up in the second half,” Burnett said. “Once we were finally able to get that lead, we just seemed to have no trouble expanding it. Hopefully we can carry those last 12 minutes into the next few games.
“We have a handful of games left before the tournament starts, so we are really hoping to build some momentum so that we can catch fire at the right time. A win at mostly full strength is a good start in that direction.”
The Lady Defenders made two of their 10 total field goals from behind the arc and also went 7-of-19 at the free throw line for 37 percent.
Sargent led the hosts with a game-high 14 points, with 10 of those coming during that pivotal second half surge. Childers was next with nine second half points, followed by Durst with five points and Katie Bradley with a single point.
The guests made one three-pointer and four total field goals while also netting 4-of-10 charity tosses for 40 percent.
Barnes led WCCS with five points and Banser chipped in three markers. Sydney Strause contributed two points, while the trio of Emily Browning, Bridget Scott and Kristen Hauser rounded things out with a point apiece.
OVCS returns to action Friday when it hosts Covenant Christian in a non-conference contest at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.