BIDWELL, Ohio — The hole ended up being too deep, but the Lady Raiders kept climbing nonetheless.
The River Valley girls basketball team trailed by 20 points midway through the third quarter, then battled back to within two possessions with five minutes left in regulation before ultimately dropping a 54-42 decision to visiting Vinton County in a non-conference matchup in Gallia County.
The host Lady Raiders (6-9) jumped out to early leads of 2-0 and 5-3 a little over a minute into regulation, but the Lady Vikings countered with eight consecutive points to secure a permanent lead in the contest. VCHS (11-5) closed the opening eight minutes of play with a 13-9 advantage.
Both teams traded buckets to start the second canto, then the guests made an 11-0 charge over the next three minutes to claim a sizable 26-11 lead with 4:05 remaining until the break. RVHS closed the final 3:50 of the first half with a small 6-4 run, allowing the hosts to pull to within 30-17 at the intermission.
Vinton County opened the third period with a 9-2 spurt, and Michaela Puckett capped that run with a basket at the 4:45 mark — giving the guests their largest lead of the night at 39-19.
The Silver and Black, however, went into survival mode — and showed some true grit in the process. RVHS held the Lady Vikings scoreless the rest of the canto while going on a 9-0 run to whittle the deficit down to 39-28 headed into the finale.
The Lady Raiders opened the finale with four consecutive points to close to within seven, but VCHS followed by snapping a 6:42 scoreless drought after Xan Hale netted a short jumper at the 6:03 mark for a 41-32 edge.
The hosts then followed with four consecutive points by Leia Moore, which pulled the deficit down to 41-36 with 5:11 remaining in regulation. The Lady Raiders, however, were never closer than five points the rest of the night.
Vinton County closed the final four minutes of the game with a 13-6 run — which included a 7-of-9 effort at the free throw line — to wrap up the 12-point decision.
River Valley outrebounded the guests by a 34-28 overall margin, which included a 13-10 edge on the offensive glass. RVHS also committed 21 turnovers in the contest, compared to only 13 by the Lady Vikings.
The Lady Raiders connected on 17-of-48 field goal attempts for 35 percent, including a 3-of-7 effort from three-point range for 43 percent. The hosts also made 5-of-9 free throw tries for 56 percent.
Moore led RVHS with 16 points, followed by Rachael Smith with 10 points and Shelby Brown with eight markers. Courtney Smith and Mikayla Pope rounded out the scoring with four points apiece.
VCHS netted 20-of-50 shot attempts for 40 percent, including a 2-of-11 effort from behind the arc for 18 percent. The guests also finished the night 13-of-17 at the charity stripe for 76 percent.
Michaela Puckett paced the Lady Vikes with a game-high 20 points, followed by Megan Dixon with 15 points and Xan Hale with seven markers.