BIDWELL, Ohio — On the wrong end of a Rocket rally.
The River Valley boys basketball team led by as many as 11 points in Tuesday’s Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division contest in Gallia County, but visiting Wellston fought back to take a 41-38 victory for its first win of the year.
The Raiders (2-4, 0-3 TVC Ohio) scored the opening bucket 2:41 into play and never trailed in the first half. The hosts were up 11-7 at the end of the first quarter and led by as much as 10 in the second, but settled for a 26-17 halftime advantage.
River Valley hit a two-pointer 1:24 into the second half, making its largest lead of the night, at 28-17. The Golden Rockets (1-4, 1-2) answered with a 9-to-4 run on a trio of three-pointers, but RVHS was up 35-26 at the end of the third stanza, thanks to a buzzer-beating three-pointer from junior guard Dylan Fulks.
The guests started the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run, taking their first lead of the night at 36-35 on a two-pointer from Cyan Ervin with 4:30 left in the game.
RVHS regained the edge after a Chase Caldwell two-pointer on an assist from Jordan Lambert 10 seconds later, but a put-back basket by Hunter Smith gave WHS the lead for good with 3:02 left in the game.
A three-pointer by Rylan Molihan gave Wellston a four-point edge with 2:39 to play, but a free throw by Mason Rhodes brought the Raiders back to within three with 2:07 to play.
Wellston came up empty on the front end of three straight 1-and-1 free throws in the final minute of the game, but the Raiders were 1-of-13 from the field in the fourth quarter and fell by a 41-38 count.
For the game, RVHS shot 15-of-52 (28.8 percent) from the field, including 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from three-point range, while WHS was 14-of-47 (29.8 percent) from the field, including 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from deep. At the foul line, River Valley made 2-of-4 (50 percent) tries, and Wellston sank 5-of-17 (29.4 percent).
Wellston claimed a 43-to-25 rebounding advantage, including 13-to-7 on the offensive end, but the Golden Rockets had 19 turnovers, eight more than the Raiders. The Silver and Black earned 13 steals, 11 assists and four blocked shots in the setback, while the guests collected 10 assists, five steals and four rejections.
Caldwell paced the Silver and Black with 14 points, including a team-best two three-pointers. Lambert recorded seven points, eight rebounds and a team-best five assists for RVHS, Rhodes added six points, while Fulks scored five. Cole Young and Brandon Call claimed three points each for River Valley, with Call grabbing a team-high nine rebounds.
Leading the Raider defense, Call and Rhodes had four steals apiece, while Lambert marked three blocks and one steal.
Molihan led Wellston with 15 points on five trifectas. Ervin and Hunter Smith both scored 11, with Smith recording team-highs of 12 rebounds, three assists and three rejections, and Ervin earning a team-high two steals. Josh Bodey and R.J. Kemp scored two points each for WHS, with Bodey also grabbing a dozen boards.
These teams will rematch on Jan. 31 in Jackson County.
Next for the Raiders, a trip to Gallia Academy for a non-league game on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.