POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The Big Blacks snapped their skid, and just in the nick of time.
The Point Pleasant boys basketball team ended its seven-game skid on Friday evening in Mason County, as the host Big Blacks rolled to an 81-61 victory over Wahama, in the regular season finale for both teams.
Point Pleasant (11-11) led initially, but Wahama (8-13) fought back to take their first advantage at 11-10, with all 11 of the White Falcon markers coming from senior Philip Hoffman. The WHS lead grew to five points — the White Falcons’ largest lead of the night — at 15-10, with 3:45 left in the opening quarter.
The Big Blacks regained the advantage, at 20-17, with 1:30 left in the first quarter and the hosts never relinquished the advantage.
Point Pleasant pushed its lead to 23-19 by the end of the first period and followed it up with a 7-to-2 run to start the second stanza. However, Wahama claimed eight straight points, cutting its deficit to one point, at 30-29, with four minutes left in the half.
The Big Blacks outscored their guest by a 14-to-4 count over the remainder of the second quarter, giving PPHS a 44-33 lead at halftime.
Point Pleasant increased its lead to as high as 19, at 57-38, with 4:45 left in the third period. Wahama cut its deficit back to as low as 13, at 57-44, but the Big Blacks pushed their advantage to 64-48 headed into the finale.
After six minutes in the fourth quarter, Point Pleasant’s lead reached a game-best 24 points, at 80-56. The White Falcons scored five of the final six points, putting the final touches on the Big Blacks’ 81-61 victory.
“We were just relentless on the offensive boards and that was reassuring,” Point Pleasant head coach Josh Williams said. “It was one of those nights were everything clicked. I’m happy for our guys, they deserve all the credit, they played extremely hard tonight. It’s very important to kind of get back on track and get the guys’ confidence back up. I’m happy for our guys, on this senior night, that they got to go out on a positive note.”
For the game, Point Pleasant held a 38-to-29 rebounding edge, including 16-to-9 on the offensive glass. The Big Blacks committed nine turnovers — including just two in the second half — while Wahama gave the ball away 15 times in the setback. In addition to claiming the game’s lone pair of blocked shots, the hosts also held advantages in assists (20-to-17) and steals (14-to-4).
“I just felt like we didn’t match their effort and their intensity,” Wahama head coach Ron Bradley said. “They came out and played hard at home on senior night. It just seemed like they wanted it a little bit more than we did. I thought we forced some shots and didn’t get into our offense at times. They killed us on the boards, we didn’t do a very good job of blocking out. You can’t give a team like Point Pleasant 4-or-5 shots every time down the floor, we did that a lot and it came back to hurt us.”
In total, Point Pleasant was able to try 26 more field goals than WHS. PPHS was 31-of-70 (44.3 percent) from the field, including 9-of-32 (28.1 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Wahama was 24-of-54 (44.4 percent) from the field, including 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) from three-point range.
From the free throw line, the Big Blacks were 10-of-13 (76.9 percent), while the White Falcons were 8-of-14 (57.1 percent).
The victors were led by senior Will Harbour, who posted a double-double with team-highs of 23 points and 14 rebounds. Parker Rairden was next for PPHS with 15 points, followed by freshman Camron Long with 11 markers.
Braydon Ralbusky scored 10 points for Point Pleasant, while Cason Payne had eight points and a game-best eight assists. Matthew Martin and Trace Derenberger both scored four points in the win, while Evan Thompson and Douglas Workman each scored three points.
The Point Pleasant defensive effort was led by Harbour and Rairden, both of whom finished with three steals and one blocked shot.
Hoffman finished with a double-double of 28 points and 13 rebounds to lead Wahama, while Jacob Lloyd added nine points. Mason Hildreth posted eight points and a team-best seven assists in the setback, while Travis Kearns had seven points.
Randy Lantz — who led the White Falcon defense with two steals — scored six points on the offensive end, while Isaiah Pauley marked two points and Anthony Ortiz chipped in with one marker.
Both teams will be back in action on Monday, in the postseason.
In the Class AA, Region IV, Section 1 tournament, Point Pleasant will visit Sissonville.
“Going into the tournament is going to be a challenge, we’re going to play a very tough Sissonville team,” Coach Williams said. “What they lack in size, they make up for in speed. They’re very skilled and so we’re going to have our hands full. We’re going to have to handle the pressure.”
The Indians are 14-8 on the year and have won back-to-back games headed into the postseason.
In the Class A, Region IV, Section 1 tournament, Wahama will try to snap its three-game skid, when Calhoun County visits Gary Clark Court.
“We don’t have any rest, we have Cahoun coming to Wahama on Monday,” Coach Bradley said. “At least we’ll be on our home floor. We’ll have to come out and play hard. Calhoun is a pretty good basketball team and we’re going to have to play well to win.”
The Red Devils are 2-19 and head into the postseason on a four-game skid.
Point Pleasant finishes 3-0 against other Mason County schools this season, as the Big Blacks slipped past the White Falcons with a 45-44 victory, in Mason on December 27, and PPHS defeated Hannan by an 89-41 clip, in ‘The Dungeon’ on January 12.
Prior to the game, as part of senior night festivities, PPHS honored seniors Matthew Martin, Will Harbour, Douglas Workman, Parker Rairden, Braydon Ralbusky, Austin Liptrap and Evan Thompson for playing their final high school game in ‘The Dungeon’.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.