MASON, W.Va. — It’s never over until it’s over.
Visiting Point Pleasant erased a 13-point third quarter deficit with a 23-9 charge over the final 8:01 of regulation, allowing the Big Blacks to pick up their sixth straight victory Tuesday night with a climactic 45-44 decision over the Wahama boys basketball team in a non-conference matchup at Gary Clark Court.
PPHS (6-1) trailed for all but 3:19 of the 32-minute affair between Mason County programs, but the guests overcame a poor shooting effort by nailing 7-of-13 shots down the stretch while turning a 35-23 deficit into the slimmest of winning margins.
Trailing 44-42 with under 15 seconds remaining, Point senior Doug Workman dribbled the ball at the top of the key with a pair of defenders waiting for his last second shot attempt.
Workman, however, did enough with the possession to draw both defenders close — which left Camron Long standing wide open at the right wing.
Workman found Long with a pass, and the freshman released a trifecta with just a few seconds left on the clock. The shot attempt hit nothing but net as the clock hit all zeroes — allowing Point Pleasant to claim the triumph while securing its only second half lead.
Workman scored 14 of his game-high 22 points during the fourth quarter, which aided a 19-9 charge that allowed the guests to overcome a 35-26 deficit headed into the finale.
The White Falcons (2-3) outrebounded the taller Big Blacks by a 27-23 overall margin — including an 8-7 edge on the offensive glass — but the hosts committed five of their 11 turnovers in the final stanza. The Red and White also went 1-of-5 at the free throw line down the stretch after nailing their first six attempts of the contest.
Afterwards, PPHS coach Josh Williams was quick to acknowledge that the White Falcons played with more heart over the course of the night than his troops did. He also noted that his team showed a lot of character when it was most needed.
“It was definitely a tale of two halves, and you have to give Coach Bradley and the kids from Wahama a ton of credit for their efforts tonight. Wahama had way more energy than we did at the start and you could tell they were ready for a fight,” Williams said. “We challenged the kids to match that intensity in the second half, and it took some time, but we finally found some rhythm just before the end of the third quarter and it took off from there. We are very fortunate to get out of here with this win.”
After leading roughly seven-eighths of the contest, WHS coach Ron Bradley was still in disbelief of how things went down in the final period.
All Bradley wanted from his defense on that final play was to make someone other than Doug Workman beat them, which ended up coming to fruition.
There were some other areas that immediately came to his mind, but Bradley was nothing but respectful of his kids’ effort — and the resiliency of Point Pleasant.
“I told the boys after the game that I have no complaints,” Bradley said. “We missed some layups and free throws throughout the course of the night that ended up costing us, but the kids played their tails off on both ends of the floor. It’s disappointing, but give credit to Point Pleasant for making plays when they needed to.”
Point scored the opening basket of the game and both teams traded leads before reaching a four-all tie two minutes into regulation, but the White Falcons reeled off seven consecutive points to take their largest first half lead at 11-4 with 2:26 remaining.
The Big Blacks, however, ended a 4:24 scoreless drought when Parker Rairden converted a basket with 36 seconds left — sparking a small 4-0 run to end the period for an 11-8 contest after eight minutes of play.
PPHS twice cut the deficit down to a single point, the last of which came with 2:03 left as Rairden made a layup for a 15-14 contest.
WHS answered with five consecutive points from Noah Litchfield as part of a 7-0 run to close out the half, giving the hosts a 22-14 advantage at the break.
Workman scored the opening basket of the second half to get the Red and Black to within six points 13 seconds in, but the White Falcons countered with a 13-6 surge over the next seven minutes en route to a 35-22 cushion with 50 seconds remaining.
After a Braxton Yates free throw, PPHS capped a quick 4-0 run to close the third as Rairden drained a three-pointer just before the buzzer — making it a three-possession game headed into the finale. Before Rairden’s buzzer-beater, the Big Blacks had missed their first 11 trifecta tries in the contest.
Wahama took its last double-digit lead of the night at 41-30 after a Litchfield basket with 4:10 remaining, but Workman scored eight points during a 10-1 run over the next 2:39 that allowed the guests to close to within 42-40 with 90 seconds remaining in regulation.
Litchfield converted a layup with 49 seconds left to extend the lead back out to two possession at 44-40, but Workman sank two free throws five seconds later to again make it a two-point game.
Then came the heroics of the final play, which Williams noted as basically his team in a nut shell. Everyone trusting in one another to reach the same goal.
“That last play by Doug probably best exemplifies this group so far. Despite being our main guy and having the hot hand, he draws the defense to him and finds Camron wide open for the game-winner. Most people in Doug’s shoes force that shot instead of making the pass for a better chance at the win,” Williams said. “This group isn’t concerned about the individual glory, all they want to do is win. It took all 32 minutes and everyone on the floor for this one happen, and that’s what I’m proudest of.”
The Big Blacks connected on 18-of-46 field goal attempts for 39 percent, including a 3-of-18 effort from behind the arc for 17 percent. The guests committed six turnovers — three in each half — and also went 5-of-7 at the free throw line for 71 percent.
Rairden followed Workman with seven points and Will Harbour added six points to the winning cause, while Long and Yates each chipped in three markers apiece. Cason Payne and Trace Derenberger also scored two points each.
Payne led PPHS with eight rebounds, followed by Harbour with six boards and Workman with four caroms.
The White Falcons were 18-of-43 from the field for 42 percent, including a 1-of-8 effort from three-point range for 13 percent. The hosts also committed eight of their 11 turnovers in the second half.
Litchfield paced WHS with 21 points, followed by a double-double effort of 16 points and 13 rebounds from Philip Hoffman. Randy Lantz was next with five points, while Jacob Lloyd concluded the scoring with two markers.
Litchfield and Travis Kearns also hauled in five rebounds apiece for Wahama.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.