GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Free throws can too often help or haunt a team.
The Ohio Valley Christian boys basketball team carried a 26-23 lead into intermission against visiting Heritage Christian Academy, but a 1-of-10 performance from the charity stripe by the Defenders proved crucial in a tightly contested 57-55 loss to the Saints on Tuesday night in Gallia County.
OVCS (1-19) edged past HCA in the first period by way of a 10-9 run to enter the second period with a one-point advantage.
Both teams shot poorly in the opening frame, as the Blue and Gold went 5-of-23 from the field for 21 percent and the Saints connected on just 3-of-15 of their shot attempts for 20 percent.
The game remained close in the second quarter, as OVCS manufactured a 16-14 run to take a 26-23 advantage into the locker room.
In the first half, the Defenders made 12-of-40 field goal attempts for 30 percent, including 1-of-7 from beyond the arc for 14 percent. OVCS gathered 24 reounds and committed just seven turnovers.
The Saints countered with a 9-of-29 performance from the field for 31 percent, including 2-of-13 from three-point range for 15 percent. HCA collected 18 rebounds and committed nine giveaways midway through the contest.
Heritage Christian Academy took control in the third quarter, as they utilized a 16-11 run to take a 39-37 lead into the finale.
OVCS found the majority of its success in the final eight minutes by way of the trifecta connecting on 6-of-11 shots from beyond the arc for 54 percent. The Defenders, however, were 0-of-8 for two-point field goals and 0-of-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
HCA closed the finale with a 7-of-13 performance from the field and connected on 4-of-12 shots from the free throw line to earn a two-point win.
Following the game, Defenders coach Steve Rice focused on his team’s performance from the free throw line.
“We were 1-of-10 from the free throw line,” Rice said. “We work on free throws every single practice — it’s just unacceptable.
“If there’s any lesson we can take from this is never take an opponent too lightly. Just because you think you should win a game, you still have to put forth the effort. You still have to make plays.”
The Blue and Gold finished with a 23-of-74 performance from the field for 31 percent, including 8-of-19 from three-point range for 42 percent. OVCS collected 40 rebounds and committed 18 turnovers in the contest.
Justin Beaver led the way with 17 markers, while Bryce Gruber added 14 points.
Andrew Dubs was next with 12 points, as Arden Peck followed with six markers.
Jeremiah Swab chipped in four markers and Asher Peck rounded out the scoring with two points.
In contrast, the Saints made 23-of-57 field goals for 40 percent, including 4-of-21 from beyond the arc for 19 percent. The Red and Black had 29 rebounds and 13 giveaways overall.
Jaycob Creel finished with a game-high 31 points, as Josh McDonald followed with 10 markers.
Cole Schafer was next with seven markers, while Levi Wigal provided four points.
Colin Jarrek concluded the scoring for HCA with two markers.
Scott Jones can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext 2106.