MERCERVILLE, Ohio — The Lady Rebels’ fuel tank was definitely on empty.
However, in a battle of attrition on Saturday against visiting River Valley, South Gallia got to the finish line first.
In rallying late in regulation, and overcoming Erin Jackson’s heart-stopping buzzer-beating shot in overtime, the Lady Rebels — somehow, someway — found a way to defeat the rival Raiders 68-62 in double-overtime in a non-league girls basketball tilt.
South Gallia, playing its fifth game in eight days on Saturday, didn’t exactly always play well — including committing several turnovers and shooting a dismal 16-of-41 from the free-throw line.
However, the Rebels rallied from a 23-18 halftime deficit — and even more noteworthy a pair of six-point holes (36-30 and 38-32) in the fourth quarter.
And, in a nip-and-tuck contest that featured six ties and seven lead changes, the Lady Rebels gained their final lead with 14 seconds left in the initial overtime — when freshman Alyssa Cremeans canned a three-pointer for her only points of the game.
After River Valley’s Jackson jacked a catch-and-shoot three-ball — and swished the shot for a 57-57 tie and a second overtime — the Lady Rebels scored the opening five points of the second extra session, and fought off a Lady Raider comeback bid.
While turnovers and jump balls were too many to count, and missed free throws for both clubs were a constant, so too were girls fouling out — four for River Valley and three for South Gallia.
Although, despite no seniors on the entire squad, the Lady Rebels became the veteran team as regulation resulted into overtimes.
“This was a huge game for us. It just showed how much we’ve grown as a team, because we are so young with no seniors,” said South Gallia coach Corey Small. “Kids just stepped up. We usually only go about seven deep, but today we had to go eight and nine. This was a big team win. We missed a lot of free throws, but we made some big ones down the stretch. Give River Valley credit. They played a heck of a game and finished the game with four players, but they never quit. In the second overtime, I know our kids were tired, they were gassed, but they stepped up. I’m happy and I’ll take this win.”
By that second overtime, the Lady Raiders — which sported just eight players on Saturday — had already fouled out forward Maggie Campbell, point guard Beth Gillman and center Jessica Steele.
Jackson made a pair of free throws for a 62-59 deficit, but was whistled for her fifth foul with a minute and 52 seconds to play.
River Valley’s Savannah Reese rained in her second three of the day to trim the deficit to 63-62, but Brooke Campbell came off the bench to score her second basket of the second overtime with 70 seconds to play — and the Lady Raiders never scored in the final minute-and-a-half.
Erin Evans, who paced the Lady Rebels by pouring in a career-high 24 points, amassed three final free throws in the final 26 seconds for the 68-62 triumph.
She finished with seven field goals including three threes, and sank seven of a dozen foul shots.
With both teams desperately needing a victory, South Gallia improved to 3-9, while River Valley fell to 2-12.
The Raiders returned to non-league action on Monday night at Belpre, but Saturday — in their view — should have resulted in a win.
“Having girls foul out really ended up hurting us at the end, but it was just tough all the way around. We didn’t play our best ball at all during this game. The girls played hard, but we’re still learning and trying to get better. We’re still in the improvement process and there is a lot from this game we can improve on,” said River Valley coach Stephen Roderick. “This is a tough one and is going to sit with us for a while. We needed this one and I think we’re all frustrated right now.”
Roderick added that momentum was on the Silver and Black’s side entering the second overtime — after Jackson drained her top-of-the-key three off the inbounds pass with .9 seconds on the clock.
She quickly caught the ball, squared up and launched a set shot — stunning South Gallia as the buzzer sounded.
“Going into the second overtime, I thought we would finish it out. But we had some young girls in there in an extreme pressure situation, and they didn’t handle it that well,” said Roderick. “Then when Erin fouls out, we have no senior leaders out there and it’s hard to play 5-on-4.”
Jackson finished with a game-high 25 points, notching five total field goals and making 13-of-17 free throws.
As a team, the Raiders shot 21-of-33 from the stripe, but couldn’t land that one to end the game in regulation.
Jackson’s freebies were the only foul shots River Valley attempted in either overtime.
South Gallia’s Amaya Howell hit three free throws in the two extra frames — to go along with her three threes and one two in regulation for 14 points.
Kiley Stapleton scored seven fourth-period points on two baskets and 3-of-4 free throws, while Aaliyah Howell had two buckets and two foul shots for six.
Olivia Hornsby, on a two and a three, and Christine Griffith — on two field goals and a free throw — each added five.
River Valley’s Jaden Neal netted four field goals, including three trifectas, and 2-of-4 free throws for 13 points — as Steele scored three buckets and 5-of-9 foul shots for 11.
She picked up her fifth foul only a minute and 21 seconds into the first overtime.
Reese recorded eight points on three total field goals, as Gillman garnered two baskets.
Cierra Roberts registered a free throw with 1:14 left in regulation that made it 48-47 River Valley, but Aaliyah Howell had the game-tying free throw with 21 seconds to play.
Both teams tallied 20 points apiece in the back-and-forth fourth quarter — after a back-and-forth first three stanzas that saw the score tied 28-28.
South Gallia led 15-10 after the first canto, but the Lady Raiders outscored the Rebels 13-3 in the second — to lead 23-18 at halftime.
The Lady Rebels, who should be completely rested by Thursday, host Belpre that night in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106