FRANKFORT, Ohio — The ending might have been different with a different kind of beginning.
The River Valley girls basketball team committed 10 turnovers on its first 15 offensive possessions of the game, and host Unioto made the most of those early opportunities Thursday night during a 54-42 victory in a Division II sectional final held at Adena High School in Ross County.
The 12th seeded Lady Raiders (12-11) started the game with seven consecutive turnovers as the fifth seeded Lady Shermans (19-3) built an 8-0 lead not even halfway through the first period.
The Purple and Gold ultimately hit five of their first 10 shot attempts, but a pair of Lauren Twyman trifectas whittled the lead down to 10-6 with 3:07 left in the opening stanza. RVHS, however, was never closer the rest of the way.
Emily Coleman and Alexis Miller followed with consecutive 3-pointers that extended the lead to double digits, but a Hannah Jacks bucket with 1:36 left eventually completed the first quarter scoring — giving UHS a 16-8 lead.
Despite 11 first quarter turnovers, the Silver and Black were still within striking distance … and managed to keep things that way over the course of the next eight minutes.
Kasey Birchfield capped a 5-3 run with a basket at the 4:16 mark for a 19-13 deficit, then a Kaylee Gillman trifecta with 2:58 left in the half pushed RVHS to within 21-16.
Unioto — which went 2-of-14 from the field in the second stanza — tacked on a Cree Stulley bucket with a minute left while taking a 23-16 edge into the break.
UHS made its first five shot attempts of the third as part of a 15-10 run that extended the lead out to 38-26 with 2:21 left, but Twyman capped a quick 4-point run that allowed the guests to get back to within single digits with 1:20 remaining.
Jerzi Paul converted a basket 23 seconds later and allowed the Lady Shermans to take a 40-30 lead into the finale.
Jacks converted two free throws at the 5:29 mark while cutting the deficit down to 44-32, but Hallie Pinkerton and Coleman answered with consecutive trifectas over the next minute — giving Unioto its largest lead of the night at 50-32 with 4:27 remaining.
The Lady Raiders ended the final four minutes of regulation with a 10-4 run to complete the 12-point outcome.
River Valley outrebounded the hosts by a 32-25 overall margin, but UHS claimed a 12-10 edge on the offensive glass. RVHS — which had as many points as turnovers at halftime — finished the night with 27 giveaways, compared to 16 turnovers by the Lady Shermans.
River Valley made 14-of-36 field goal attempts for 39 percent, including a 6-of-13 effort from behind the arc for 46 percent. The guests netted 8-of-16 free throw attempts for 50 percent.
Jacks led the Lady Raiders with a double-double effort of 13 points and 13 rebounds, followed by Twyman with 11 points and Savannah Reese with six markers.
Gillman was next with five points and Birchfield contributed four points, while Payton Crabtree completed the tally with three markers.
Crabtree hauled in six rebounds for RVHS in the setback, while Sierra Somerville grabbed five caroms.
It was the final basketball game for seniors Payton Crabtree, Savannah Reese, Kasey Birchfield, Kaylee Gillman and Kaylee Tucker in the Silver and Black. The Lady Raiders claimed their first winning season in roughly a decade and ended up going 5-7 in TVC Ohio play.
Unioto netted 18-of-49 field goal attempts for 37 percent, including a 6-of-16 effort from 3-point territory for 38 percent. The hosts also went 12-of-17 at the charity stripe for 71 percent.
Coleman paced UHS with a game-high 14 points, followed by Stulley with 13 points and a team-best seven boards. Amber Cottrill also chipped in eight points for the victors.
Pinkerton and Jerzi Paul were next with five points each, while Avery Miller and Alexis Miller respectively added four and three points. Kylie Paul completed the winning total with two points.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.