BIDWELL, Ohio — So much for starting off on the right foot.
The River Valley boys basketball team went just 3-of-21 from the field in the first half and trailed Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division guest Alexander 26-to-7 at halftime, on Tuesday night in Gallia County. RVHS righted the ship in the second half, shooting 10-of-24 from the field, but fell to the Spartans by a 45-32 count.
The Spartans (9-8, 6-3 TVC Ohio) — who never trailed — began the game with a 9-0 run, as River Valley (7-12, 2-7) came up empty on its first nine possessions.
The Raiders ended the cold spell with a free throw at the 3:42 mark of the opening period, and then followed it up with a pair of two-pointers, cutting the Spartan lead to 9-5 with two minutes left in the first.
Alexander scored the final four points of the first quarter and first five points of the second, extending its lead to 18-5 with 6:30 left in the first half.
River Valley scored its only bucket of the second quarter with 5:30 remaining. AHS ended the period with seven straight points and a 26-7 lead.
“I think I just messed up, I should have probably done some different things defensively and switched our defenses up,” said RVHS head coach Bryan Drummond. “I pretty much stayed in man the first half, when we’re normally switching in and out. I was just trying to get to halftime and be down less than 10 — because of the way we were playing — and hopefully have a better second half.”
The Spartans opened the second half with a trifecta, but went scoreless for the next six minutes. River Valley rattled off 11 straight points, cutting its deficit to 11 points, at 29-18, with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
Alexander scored the last four points of the third quarter and the first four points of the fourth, pushing its advantage to 37-18 with seven minutes left in regulation.
The Raiders ended the game on a 14-to-8 run, but it was too little, too late, as the Spartans claimed the 45-32 victory.
“We cut it to 11, early in the second half, but I made another defensive change and they went out and scored on that as well,” Coach Drummond said. “Again, that’s probably my fault, I probably should have gotten out of our 1-3-1 and gotten back into man, or 23-matchup, or something like that. We missed some shots we should have made, don’t get me wrong, but I have to get them in places to succeed a little more.”
The Raiders had won back-to-back home games prior to Tuesday ,while the Spartans have now won four straight road contests.
Alexander won the rebounding battle by a 34-27 count, including 12-to-9 on the offensive glass. River Valley committed 15 turnovers in the setback, one more than AHS. RVHS finished with a 10-to-5 steals advantage, while the Spartans held a 13-to-6 edge in assists.
For the game, River Valley shot 13-of-45 (28.9 percent) from the field, including 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Alexander was 16-of-49 (32.7 percent) from the field, including 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) from deep. RVHS made 4-of-10 (40 percent) free throw attempts, while AHS went 8-of-11 (72.7 percent) from the stripe.
The Raiders were led by junior Dustin Barber with eight points, followed by Jarret McCarley and Jacob Dovenbarger with seven points each. Dovenbarger pulled in a game-best 12 rebounds, dished out a team-best two assists and came up with the only three rejections in the game, while McCarley recorded a team-high three steals.
Tre Craycraft scored five points for RVHS, while Layne Fitch added three and Ian Polcyn chipped in with two.
Chace Harris led AHS with a double-double effort of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Davidson scored 13 points in the win, Stone Markins-Irwin added six, while Luke Kish contributed four points and a team-best two steals. Wyatt Radford and Genesis Williams both scored three points for the Spartans, while Michael Norris dished out a game-high five assists.
The Spartans also won the first meeting between these teams, claiming a 68-38 victory on January 10, in Albany.
AHS hosts Nelsonville-York on Friday, while RVHS is back in action on Tuesday, when league-leader Vinton County visits Bidwell.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.