POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — There’s a reason so many cliches exist about making free throws in a close basketball game — because they’re true.
The Wahama boys basketball team trailed Point Pleasant at the end of the first period, but the contest proved a see-saw battle that required overtime as the White Falcons utilized a 21-of-31 performance from the charity stripe to earn a 55-50 victory on Wednesday night at The Dungeon in Mason County.
The Big Blacks (3-18) opened the contest on a 7-0 run, but Wahama (5-17) rallied with a 10-6 run of its own to cut the deficit to 13-10 as play entered the second period.
The visiting White Falcons began the second quarter with five unanswered points to take their first lead of the game with 5:35 remaining until halftime. The two teams played to three ties the rest of the half, but a 12-6 run allowed the Red and White to take a 22-19 advantage into the intermission.
WHS made 6-of-30 field goal attempts for 30 percent, including 1-of-5 from three-point range in the first half. The White Falcons also collected 14 rebounds and committed six turnovers.
PPHS countered with an 8-of-27 effort from the field for 29 percent, including 1-of-11 from beyond the arc. The Big Blacks gathered a total of 15 rebounds and committed five turnovers.
Wahama appeared well in control of the contest in the closing minutes of the third period. The Red and White led by a score of 36-24 with 1:19 remaining in the third frame, but the Big Blacks connected on three trifectas in that leftover span to cut the deficit to 36-33 entering the finale.
The game remained neck-and-neck throughout the fourth quarter as a 12-9 run by Point Pleasant forced overtime.
Both teams began the extra framed knotted at 45-all, but a 1-of-8 performance from the field by the Big Blacks — coupled with a 2-of-5 effort from the field by Wahama, as well as connecting on 6-0f-10 shots from the charity stripe — provided just enough for the five point victory.
Following the game, WHS coach Ron Bradley was pleased with his team’s performance — particularly the kids ability to stay focused despite being behind early.
“They hung in there and didn’t panic,” Bradley said. “They did what they had to do and kept chipping away at the lead. During timeouts and the breaks between quarters they were telling each other that they were back in the game. They were encouraging one another all night.
“This was a great win for these kids. We’ve struggled a bit, so to finish the regular season with this win is really big for us.”
Overall, the White Falcons made 16-of-46 field goals for 34 percent, including 2-of-10 from long distance for 20 percent. Wahama gathered a total of 26 rebounds and committed 11 turnovers.
Noah Litchfield finished with a game-high 26 points, including an 11-of-16 effort from the free throw line.
Jacob Lloyd was next with 10 markers, while Dakota Belcher followed with eight points.
Tyler Bumgarner and Brady Bumgarner chipped in four makers each, respectively.
Abram Pauley rounded out the scoring for WHS with three points.
The Red and Black finished with a 18-of-63 effort from the field for 28 percent, including 7-of-21 from three-point range for 22 percent. PPHS also collected 37 rebounds and gave away the ball 16 times.
Casey Lowery led the way for the Big Blacks with 11 markers, while Hunter Bush was next with eight points.
Malik Butler followed with seven markers and Kyle Martin chipped in six points.
Evan Cobb and Logan Cochran added three points apiece, respectively.
Trace Derenberger concluded the scoring for Point Pleasant with two points.
The White Falcons return to the hardwood on Saturday as they travel to face Williamstown at 7 p.m. The Big Blacks travel to Sissonville on Monday for a 7 p.m. contest.
Scott Jones can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext 2106.