RACINE, Ohio — It was a spirited contest to the end.
The River Valley girls basketball team jumped out to an early and held on to defeat host Southern 30-28 in the Purple and Gold’s home opener on Tuesday night in Meigs County. The Lady Raiders (2-0) got out in front quick, but the Lady Tornadoes (1-1) fought back, despite a rough night of shooting from the home team.
The Silver and Black took the early lead off six points from Tianna Qualls and Courtney Smith with a little over three minutes to go in the first quarter. Jansen Wolfe gave Southern its first points of the game with 2:10 left in the quarter. Leia Moore sank a couple of buckets to give River Valley a 10-2 after one period.
The Purple and Gold started the second quarter on fire offensively. Ali Deem sank a shot from beyond the arc in the opening minute to cut the deficit in half. Faith Teaford connected with a layup to get Southern within three points with less than five minutes left in the half. Moore hit a three-pointer at the 4:14 mark to keep the visitors up 13-7. Qualls hit a jumper with six seconds left in the second period to give the Lady Raiders a 17-11 lead going into halftime.
Southern allowed nine takeaways in the first half of play. River Valley had 10 rebounds in the first quarter, half of which were offensive rebounds.
The Lady Tornado defense tightened up coming in the second half. After a Shelby Brown layup at the 6:18 mark, the River Valley offense stalled for a bit in the third quarter. Qualls got the visiting offense back on track with a jumper with 3:33 left in the third period.
The Purple and Gold offense shifted momentum back their way. Deem and Sierra Cleland knocked down back-to-back threes around the two-minute mark to get within six points. Teaford and Macie Michael contributed four points to make it a one-possession game. The Lady Raiders led 23-21 after three quarters.
Smith responded for the Silver and Black with a layup at the 7:20 mark in the fourth quarter. Brown added four points off a three-point and a foul shot to give the Lady Raiders a six-point edge.
Wolfe snapped River Valley’s offensive run with back-to-back buckets to make it a three-point game with 2:55 left in the contest. After a foul shot from River Valley’s Maggie Campbell, Deem laid the ball up for a bucket to make it a two-point disadvantage with 44 seconds left in the game, but the River Valley defense held on to end the contest.
Both teams struggled from the field as Southern was 14-of-38 in field goals overall, while River Valley was 14-of-47 from the field. The Silver and Black had a 27-20 advantage in rebounds. The Lady Tornadoes committed 14 turnovers, while the Lady Raiders had 12 turnovers.
Moore led River Valley with nine points, followed by Smith with eight points. Brown and Qualls each contributed six points for the Silver and Black, while Campbell had one point.
“I don’t think either team brought their best shooting game tonight,” River Valley coach Sarah Evans-Moore said. “Part of that was both teams played pretty aggressive defense. I’m really pleased that our girls maintained their poise down the stretch and on to the win. It was a little touch and go for a while, but we were able to hang out and pull it out.”
Deem and Wolfe led Southern’s efforts with eight points each. Cleland had seven points for the Purple and Gold, while Teaford and Michael had four and two points respectively.
“I give River Valley a lot of credit. They’re physical all the way around,” Southern coach Kent Wolfe said. “Our shooting wasn’t very good. We’ve got to shoot the ball better versus the zone. At halftime, we made some adjustments and got the ball in the right spots. We had some shots we missed and we’re struggling at the foul line, but I’m very pleased with their heart. They played very hard, especially toward the end.”
The Lady Raiders will host Meigs on Dec. 3, while Southern will face Miller in Racine on Nov. 30. Both games will start at 7:30 p.m.
Donald Lambert can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106