JACKSON, Ohio — Every second counts, particularly in the postseason.
Maggie Smith hit a six-footer with two seconds left in regulation, allowing Chesapeake to sneak away from Jackson High School Monday night with a 41-39 victory over the River Valley girls basketball team in a Division III sectional semifinal matchup in the Apple City.
Smith’s baseline jumper broke a 39-all tie, a margin that the fourth-seeded Lady Panthers (15-6) had to scratch and claw just to reach.
The 13th-seeded Lady Raiders (6-15) controlled most of the first half, as the guests led 13-10 after eight minutes and also used a 14-7 second quarter run to establish a 27-17 intermission advantage.
Chesapeake — which swept RVHS in the regular season by counts of 54-46 and 57-40 — found its groove in the third canto, as Amanda Ruffner scored 13 of her game-high 26 points to lead CHS on a 15-4 surge for a 32-31 edge headed into the finale.
Both teams traded leads down the stretch, and the game ended up knotted at 39-all with seven ticks left on the clock. Following a Lady Panther timeout, the hosts worked their designed play to perfection — getting a wide open look for Smith within 10 feet of the basket. It was also Smith’s only points in the contest.
Smith’s goal completed 24-12 second half run, and gave the Lady Panthers another day in the tournament. The loss not only ended River Valley’s season, but also a two-game winning streak.
Chesapeake will now face fifth-seeded Wellston in a D-3 sectional final at 2:45 p.m. Saturday at Jackson High School. The Lady Rockets defeated Southeastern 45-30 in the other semifinal at JHS on Monday night.
Cady Gilmore led River Valley with 16 points, followed by Alli Neville with 11 points and Tracy Roberts with eight markers. Shalin Comer rounded out the scoring with four points. It was the final basketball game for seniors Alli Neville Beth Misner in the Silver and Black, who were also a perfect 3-of-3 at the free throw line.
After Ruffner’s 26, the Lady Panthers received nine points from Jordan Porter. Ruffner also hauled in 12 rebounds for the victors, who were 9-of-14 at the charity stripe for 64 percent.
River Valley’s last postseason win came during the 2009 campaign at Wellston, where the Lady Raiders captured a 52-43 victory over Rock Hill in a sectional semifinal. RVHS last won a sectional title and advanced to districts in the 2001-02 campaign.
The Lady Raiders placed fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 2-8 league mark. Fairland (10-0) won the OVC crown.
Chesapeake 41, River Valley 39
RV 13-14-4-8 — 39
C10-7-15-9 — 41
RIVER VALLEY (6-15):Chelsea Copley 0 0-0 0, Shalin Comer 2 0-0 4, Beth Misner 0 0-0 0, Alli Neville 5 0-0 11, Cady Gilmore 6 3-3 16, Mercedes Combs 0 0-0 0, Tracy Roberts 4 0-0 8, Kaci Bryant 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17 3-3 39. Three-point goals: 2 (Neville, Gilmore).
CHESAPEAKE (15-6): Casey Underwood 0 0-0 0, Amanda Ruffner 11 4-6 26, Jackie Nelson 1 0-0 2, Sarah Rice 0 0-1 0, Sydnee Hall 1 0-0 2, Maggie Smith 1 0-0 2, Jordan Porter 2 5-7 9. TOTALS: 16 9-14 41. Three-point goals: None.