BIDWELL, Ohio —The Raiders had to wonder if there was, in fact, a lid on the basket.
Enduring a pair of epic droughts from the field, host River Valley combined for a mere six points in the middle two quarters on Tuesday night — and fell 57-41 against the Athens Bulldogs in a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division boys basketball bout.
The loss left the Raiders winless in the TVC-Ohio in nine tries, part of a 3-15 overall mark.
Athens, minus its standout performer Griffin Lutz with a likely season-ending injury, improved to 10-7 — and 7-3 in the TVC-Ohio.
The Bulldogs were also without the injured Robert Dickelman again, but thanks to outscoring the Raiders 29-6 over the middle two cantos, Athens afforded itself the luxury of resting its starters in the entire fourth quarter.
The Raiders raced out to a 12-5 first-quarter lead on Tyler Twyman’s back-to-back three-point goals — the second one occurring at the 3:35 mark.
Unfortunately for River Valley, its next field goal wasn’t until the 5:49 point of the third period — when Twyman drove the baseline and scored inside.
By then, the Bulldogs had doubled up the Raiders 28-14, as Athens actually reached its largest leads of 46-19 and 48-21 when Jarrett McCarley scored the next Raider field goal exactly eight minutes later.
“Those two quarters just killed us. Scoring two points in the second quarter and four in the third quarter. Just killed us,” said River Valley coach Jeremy Peck.
The end of the first frame actually set those wheels in motion.
Brody Ball made a steal and layup for Athens with two-and-a-half minutes left, then Dalton Cozart drained a three-pointer at the 50-second mark to close the gap to 12-10.
Cozart then — just 40 seconds into the second stanza — popped another three-ball, giving the Bulldogs the lead for good.
River Valley, meanwhile, went scoreless from the field — and endured a full five-minute scoring drought to trail 22-13.
Dustin Barber made a free throw for the Raiders at the 5:37 mark, then Twyman sank another free throw exactly five minutes later.
But Justin Hynes’ putback for the Bulldogs, with four seconds left in the first half, made it a double-digit (24-14) advantage at halftime.
The third period saw Athens open with back-to-back putbacks by Zacciah Saltzman, doubling the cushion to 28-14.
Twyman then scored to finally stop the astonishing 13-minute, 46-second field-goal drought — but it was then another full five minutes before the Raiders scored again.
McCarley made a pair of free throws to make it 32-18, but Cozart’s third three of the game, a pair of Cozart free throws and finally another Saltzman stickback boasted the Athens advantage to 21 points (39-18).
The Raiders did outscore Athens 23-18 in the fourth quarter, but got no closer than the final score on a Scottie Hughes basket at the buzzer.
Twyman tallied 12 points, including 4-of-7 free throws, to pace the Raiders.
McCarley, who also had four fourth-quarter field goals, added 10.
Hollis Morrison mustered a deuce and trey in the fourth quarter, as Barber finished with 4-of-6 free throws.
Kirk Morrow with a first-quarter three-pointer, Jacob Dovenbarger with a first-quarter free throw, Jacob Morris with a fourth-quarter field goal, and Patrick Brown with two four-quarter free throws rounded out the Silver and Black.
Saltzman, on six total field goals and 2-of-2 free throws, led Athens and all scorers with 15 points.
Cozart canned three threes and 3-of-6 foul shots — plus a fourth-quarter two — for 14 markers.
Ball made two twos and a three towards seven points, while Logan Maxfield scored six on two field goals and 2-of-2 free throws.
Treyce Albin had five fourth-quarter points, while Hynes had a pair of second-quarter field goals and Micah Saltzman four fourth-period points.
Nick Lutz’s layup in the third quarter rounded out the Athens scoring.
The Raiders returned home, and returned to TVC-Ohio action, on Wednesday night with a makeup matchup against Wellston.
River Valley will then host league-leading Vinton County on Friday night.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106