BIDWELL, Ohio — The numbers’ game will catch up sooner or later.
River Valley boys basketball team took Eastern’s best, but it wasn’t enough as the Silver and Black won its season opener 61-44 on Friday night in Gallia County.
The Eagles (0-1) hung tough with the hosting Raiders (1-0), but River Valley’s multiple player advantage caught up with the Green and White down the stretch.
Eastern jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter off a Jett Facemyer three-pointer, but the Raiders soon took firm control of the contest. Kirk Morrow and Jacob Dovenbarger capped off a 9-0 run for the Silver and Black with 3:11 left in the first period. Dillon Swatzel’s layup at the end of the quarter kept the Eagles in the contest. The home team led 13-7 after one quarter of play.
The Raiders kept the offensive momentum moving in the second quarter. Patrick Brown opened the period up with a three with 7:25 left in the half. The River Valley offense went on a 8-0 run, with Dovenbarger scoring six of those points.
Chase Curtis nailed a bucket with 2:45 left in the second quarter to turn things around for the Eagles. Facemyer, Swatzel and Corbet Catlett gave the visitors a 6-0 run in the final two minutes of the half. River Valley led Eastern 27-18 at the half.
River Valley out-rebounded Eastern 17-12 in the first half of play. The Eagles’ shooting was a key struggle as the visitors had 19 missed opportunities, with nine shots missing from behind the arc.
Both teams took the gloves off as the second half began. Dovenbarger opened the third quarter with a layup to add to the Raiders’ lead. Eastern answered back with a six-point run in three possessions.
Hollis Morrison netted a three with 3:50 left in the third period to shift the momentum back to the Silver and Black. River Valley’s 11-2 run seemingly put the game out of Eastern’s reach as the home team led 49-32 after three quarters. Both teams scored a combined 36 points in the third period.
River Valley maintained control in the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run early in the period and it didn’t look back. Facemyer netted seven points offensively for the Green and White in the final minutes of the game, but the lead was too much for the to overcome.
The Raiders finished the night with 23-of-46 field goals made overall, while the Eagles only made 19-of-61 from the field. River Valley had a 34-22 edge in rebounds. Eastern turned the ball over nine times, while River Valley only had three turnovers. The Silver and Black connected on four three-point shots.
Morrow led the Silver and Black with 18 points, followed by Dovenbarger with 17 points. Morrison had 10 points for the Raiders, while Dayton Hardway and Mark Wray had six and four points respectively. Brown and Dustin Barber each contributed three points for the Silver and Black. River Valley was 5-of-12 from the free throw line.
“I told my boys it was all about fundamentals, discipline and coming out and doing the little things right,” River Valley coach Jeremy Peck said. “I’ve got a great group of boys this year. They work hard and play well together. They’re one big family. It feels good to get this first win of the season.”
Facemyer led the Eagles offense with a game-high 24 points. Swatzel had nine points, while Curtis netted seven points. Catlett and Jacob Laudermilt each had two points apiece for the Green and White. Eastern was 4-of-6 from the free throw line in the contest.
“We can try to be the most conditioned team, but when you only have seven guys … it’s going to wear on you,” Eastern coach Jeremy Hill said. “I think we played our hearts out. Out shot was off, but you can’t fault the kids because they played extremely hard. We just ran out of gas. As the game started heading into the fourth quarter, you could see the lead grow and grow and that comes down to conditioning.”
River Valley travels to Jackson on Tuesday for a non-conference game, while Eastern heads on the road to face Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division foe Miller. Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Donald Lambert can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106