As a freshman, Gavin Rawstron missed three free throws that would have given Oak Hill a victory over Monmouth.

On Tuesday night, those misses were on the junior’s mind when he stepped to the foul line and hit four consecutive shots to help the Raiders take down Mountain Valley 45-41 in MVC boys basketball action.

“When I got up to the line, even my teammates were like, ‘Hey, don’t do a repeat,’” Rawstron said. “I said, ‘Wow, thanks for that.’ It was definitely through my head the whole time. I knew a lot of kids on the team look to me as a leader in every sport in this school, so I knew this was a good moment to prove myself, so going out there and getting this opportunity was nice.”

Rawstron could joke afterwards, but the final minutes were tense as the Raiders (3-5) attempted to fend off Mountain Valley’s 6-foot-9 center Cooper Davis, who scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help the Falcons tie the game late.

Rawstron’s first two free throws came with 7.5 seconds to play and the game tied at 41-41. He hit both shots.

Oak Hill then forced a Mountain Valley (3-6) turnover, and on the next possession Rawstron was fouled again. Again, he made both.

He’s an exceptional player,” Smith said. “He does everything I ask of him. … I couldn’t ask for anyone better (to be shooting free throws) at the end of games, and you can see why. He knocks them down when he needs to.”

After a rough start to the game, Mountain Valley stormed back in the second half.

Oak Hill began the contest in a 1-3-1 diamond press that jammed the Mountain Valley offense. The Raiders stayed in the full-court defense for roughly the first four minutes of the game, during which they jumped out to a 9-0 lead that included two layups by Liam Rodrique and a 3-pointer from Rawstron.

“We just don’t start games well,” Mountain Valley coach Scot New said. “Every game we’ve started … down seven or eight points before we even know it. Once we overcome that, then I think things will turn around a bit. We played hard.”

The Falcons bounced back by leaning on Davis, who also pulled down 19 rebounds.

After taking a four-point lead into the second quarter, the Raiders added to their lead, and a 3-pointer right before the halftime buzzer by sophomore Jackson Arbour gave them a 22-15 advantage at the break.

Oak Hill relied on shooting for much of the game as Mountain Valley showed multiple zone defenses, something the Raiders had seen just once before this season.

I have good shooters that can break a zone, and I knew that as long as we got the lead and played with the lead, we’d force them to come out and play man,” Smith said. 

New told Davis to “play through the contact” in the second half.

“I know it’s tough for him to get some calls because of his height,” New said. “I told him that he just has to take over the game.”

Davis listened and scored eight of the Falcons’ 11 third-quarter points. Still, Oak Hill survived the period thanks to 3-pointers by three different players, as well as a combined seven boards by Rawstron and Rodrique.

Davis went on an offensive rampage in the fourth quarter, putting up 13 points.

There is (no plan), he’s that good,” Smith said. “We just had to limit the other guys from scoring, and I thought we did a nice job. Whenever he got the ball, our off guy that was on the same side would come and dig down. He’s a tough matchup for us because we usually struggle against the big guys and he is one of the better ones.”

Clutch steals from Rodrique and Caden Thompson set up Rawstron’s four free throws and Oak Hill seal the win.

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