POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Ultimately, you have to start somewhere.
The River Valley boys basketball team secured Brett Bostic’s first win as head coach on Tuesday night thanks to a pivotal 19-8 third quarter surge that led to a 53-40 decision over host Point Pleasant in a non-conference matchup at The Dungeon in Mason County.
The visiting Raiders (1-3) ended a three-game skid while also spoiling the season-opening event for the Big Blacks (0-1), who begin the year with three seniors and only one healthy returning starter from a season ago.
Early on, the Red and Black showed the part of a team playing its first contest after missing nine shots and committing six turnovers with its first 15 possessions.
The Silver and Black made the most of those opening six minutes while building their largest first half lead at 12-0.
The Big Blacks finally got on the board with a Hunter Bush basket at the 1:45 mark, making it a 12-2 contest at the end of one quarter.
Things, however, took a serious turn in the second frame as Point hit half of its 10 shot attempts during a 16-3 surge that gave the hosts their only lead of the game. Evan Cobb nailed a trifecta to cap the run with 2:22 remaining for a 16-15 advantage.
The Big Blacks didn’t muster another shot attempt before half, and the Raiders countered with a small 2-1 spurt that tied the game at 17-all.
Brandon Call ended up giving the guests a permanent lead with a basket at the 1:05 mark, but Cobb added a free throw with 47 seconds left to make it a 19-18 contest headed into the intermission.
Point Pleasant again came up empty on its first nine offensive possessions of the second half, and the Raiders followed with a 10-0 surge that secured a 29-18 edge with 5:26 left in the third period.
River Valley — which netted 8-of-14 shot attempts during the third — ended the stanza with a 9-8 run for a 38-26 advantage headed into the finale.
The Big Blacks were never closer as the Raiders ended regulation with a slim 15-14 run that wrapped up the 13-point outcome.
River Valley’s biggest lead of 53-37 came following a pair of Rory Twyman free throws with 25 seconds left in the contest.
It was an up-and-down event for both coaches, but Bostic felt the difference in the outcome came down to execution out of the break.
The team with two extra weeks of game experience also showed the just how far it had come over that span.
“We talked at halftime about what we wanted to go out and accomplish, and that was taking care of the basic things that would allow us to go out there and secure this win,” Bostic said. “We executed on the defensive end, we rebounded and we shot the ball well there in the third. We did enough things right to step up and take control of the game. I cannot be prouder of the kids for what they did tonight in getting this road win. It’s a start for us in a positive direction.”
Conversely, PPHS coach Josh Williams acknowledged that his team had some goods and some bads in the opener. But, as he put it, it’s the first of many more chances to improve as a basketball team.
“I think you could tell there were some first-game jitters on our part. Big crowd, team from across the river and a lot of kids making their first starts or varsity debuts. We had troubles shooting the ball early and I think that initial excitement got to us,” Williams said. “We were getting the shots and getting some stops early on, but absolutely nothing would go in the basket. We stayed with it and made a nice run to get back in it, but River Valley made another nice run at us to start the second half and they answered every time we made a run, so we couldn’t really build any momentum.
“It’s game one, and we have some good things from tonight and some things to improve on. We also have a lot of basketball left to play, so we’ll grow from this and move on.”
River Valley claimed a 34-22 advantage on the boards, including a 10-9 edge on the offensive glass. The Raiders did commit 24 turnovers, while Point finished the game with 19 giveaways.
The Silver and Black netted 21-of-48 field goal attempts for 44 percent, including a 4-of-17 effort from 3-point range for 24 percent. The guests were also a perfect 7-of-7 at the free throw line.
Jordan Lambert led RVHS with a double-double effort of 21 points and 12 rebounds, both game-highs. Twyman and Layne Fitch were next with 11 markers apiece, while Chase Caldwell and Call respectively chipped in six and four points to the winning cause.
Call also hauled in eight boards, with Twyman adding five rebounds and Fitch grabbing four caroms.
The Big Blacks netted 13-of-46 shot attempts for 28 percent, including a 5-of-25 effort from behind the arc for 20 percent. The hosts were also 9-of-12 at the charity stripe for 75 percent.
Braxton Yates led PPHS with 20 points, followed by Kyelar Morrow with eight points and Cobb with six markers. Bush and Aiden Sang completed the scoring with respective tallies of four and two points.
Bush grabbed a team-best seven rebounds, followed by Yates with four caroms and Nicholas Smith with three boards.
River Valley returns to action Saturday when it travels to Mercerville for a non-conference bout with South Gallia at 5:30 p.m.
The Big Blacks begin a month-long road trip on Tuesday when they travel to Calvary Baptist for a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.