CENTENARY, Ohio — The Blue Angels found their measuring stick … and it was much larger than a standard-sized ruler.
After dropping a 56-32 decision in the season opener at Bidwell, the Gallia Academy girls basketball team exacted a little revenge Monday night with a 60-56 overtime victory over visiting River Valley in a non-conference matchup of Gallia County programs.
The host Blue Angels (6-11) trailed only once in regulation and led by as many as 14 points early in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Raiders (9-8) countered with a furious 20-6 surge over a 7-minute window — knotting things up at 53-all while also eventually forcing overtime.
The Silver and Black struck first in the extra 4-minute session as Lauren Twyman sank a basket at 3:18, giving the guests their second and final lead of the night.
Maddy Petro followed with consecutive buckets over the next 52 seconds, allowing the Blue and White to secure a permanent cushion of 57-55 with 2:25 remaining.
Sierra Somerville made the second of two free throw attempts with 30 seconds left to cut the deficit down to one, but Alex Barnes sank 3-of-4 charity tosses the rest of the way to complete the 4-point triumph.
In a rivalry game that featured 43 personal fouls and 53 free throw attempts, Gallia Academy’s extra motivation proved to play a vital role in the final outcome.
GAHS coach Jordan Deel noted afterwards that the ‘chip’ — which dates back to the Nov. 25, 2019 opener — shows just how far his relatively young squad has come in the 15 games in between.
And, as the second-year mentor noted, a lot of it has to do with the leadership being put forth by his team captains.
“We knew River Valley was going to come in with a solid game plan, and they did. We also felt good about our game plan, and we had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. We just felt like we had something to prove about how far we’d come since that first outing,” Deel said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth from our underclassmen, especially in starting two freshmen and a sophomore … but our upperclassmen have helped set the tone. Alex and Maddy have taken on a lot of responsiblility for this team, especially in close situations like tonight, but they keep the team level-headed so that we can play to win.
“Tonight was a very rewarding win for us for a lot of reasons. The most rewarding thing is seeing just how far we’ve come since the season started. I’m very proud for our girls tonight.”
The Blue Angels benefited from attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line, which generated 21 additional chances at the stripe than the River Valley.
The Lady Raiders, on the other hand, ended up taking 24 shot attempts from the field — the same number of extra 3-point shot attempts than Gallia Academy.
Both ended up playing a very large role in the final 12 minutes of the contest.
With GAHS clinging to a 43-32 lead entering the fourth quarter, the hosts opened things with a Barnes basket 15 seconds in … and didn’t make any of their remaining three shot attempts the rest of the period.
The Blue Angels ultimately made 8-of-17 free throw attempts to balance out their offense, but it also opened the door for River Valley’s comeback attempt.
The Lady Raiders — who netted just 13-of-45 shot attempts through three quarters — hit three trifectas and went 6-of-14 from the floor while capping a 21-10 surge in the fourth.
Gallia Academy took its largest lead of the night at 47-33 following a pair of Preslee Reed free throws with 7:13 left in regulation, but the guests completed the epic climb with a Hannah Jacks bucket with 1:50 remaining — tying things up at 50-all.
Barnes tacked on a trio of free throws over the next 90 seconds for a 53-50 edge, but Payton Crabtree nailed a corner trifecta with 11 seconds showing to again tie things up at 53.
Crabtree went for a steal on the ensuing inbounds pass, but was whistled for her fifth foul while sending Barnes to the line with 6.1 seconds left on the clock.
Barnes missed the front end of the 2-shot sequence, then GAHS decided to call a timeout just before the senior released the second attempt — which ultimately came off of the board after hitting nothing but net.
Barnes missed her second chance at the eventual game-winner out of the timeout, but neither team managed a shot attempt before the regulation buzzer sounded.
There were three ties and three lead changes in the opening frame, with GAHS jumping out to a 7-2 lead before the Lady Raiders took their only lead of regulation at 9-7 on a Crabtree trifecta with 3:05 left.
The Blue Angels built a 19-13 advantage through eight minutes and took a 28-23 lead into the break. The hosts also led by as many as a dozen points twice in the second canto.
After being on the wrong end of a 28-point end swing, RVHS coach Stephen Roderick was obviously frustrated with the outcome afterwards.
The third-year mentor, however, did note that there were positives to take away from this — particularly the way his troops continued to fight in the face adversity.
“It’s a disappointing loss, but give credit to Coach Deel because his kids came back hungry after what happened in the first meeting at our place. They took it to us tonight from the start,” Roderick said. “Our girls dug a pretty big hole and fought back, but we just never managed to get ourselves out of that hole. We did some positive things, like coming back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit, but we didn’t have enough energy at the start … and it cost us.
“It’s a rivalry game, so this one does sting a little bit more, but we have to shake this one off and get ready for the next one. We’ve had a good run of late and we need to keep that going with the tournament approaching.
Gallia Academy outrebounded the guests by a 40-32 overall margin, but the Lady Raiders claimed a 12-11 edge on the offensive glass. The Silver and Black also committed only 10 of the 28 turnovers in the contest.
The Blue Angels netted 19-of-42 field goal attempts for 45 percent, including a 1-of-4 effort from 3-point range for 25 percent. The hosts also made 21-of-37 free throw attempts for 57 percent.
Petro led GAHS with 25 points, followed by Barners with a double-double effort of 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Regan Wilcoxon was next with six points, followed by Reed and Chanee Cremeens with three markers each.
Kaylie Clark completed the winning tally with two points. Petro and Cremeens also hauled in nine and seven caroms for the victors, respectively.
River Valley made 20-of-66 shot attempts for 30 percent, including a 7-of-28 effort from behind the arc for 25 percent. The guests were also 9-of-16 at the charity stripe for 57 percent.
Crabtree led the Lady Raiders with a game-high 26 points, followed by Twyman with 14 points and Jacks with nine markers. Jacks and Twyman also led the guests with eight and six rebounds, respectively.
Somerville was next with four points, while Kaylee Gillman completed the tally with one point. Gillman also hauled in five boards.
Gallia Academy returns to action Thursday when it hosts Fairland in an Ohio Valley Conference contest at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Raiders return to the hardwood Thursday when they travel to Nelsonville-York for a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division matchup at 7 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.