RACINE, Ohio — Control the glass and control the game.
The Southern boys basketball held a 43-23 advantage in the rebounding column Tuesday night, as the Tornadoes knocked off Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Federal Hocking, by a count of 59-52.
Southern (10-3, 7-2 TVC Hocking) took a 9-7 lead over Federal Hocking (8-7, 5-5) just over halfway through the first quarter and the Tornadoes never relinquished their lead.
The Lancers, which trailed by three points at the end of the first quarter, fell behind 30-21 at halftime. SHS outrebounded the guests 22-to-6 in the opening half.
Southern’s lead was cut to five points by the end of the third quarter and Federal Hocking trailed by just one possession with a minute to play. The Tornadoes hit 5-of-6 free throw attempts over the final minute of play to seal the 59-52 win.
“I knew it would be a tough game,” seventh year Southern head coach Jeff Caldwell said. “Whenever us and Federal Hocking get together is always a tough battle. I knew it was going to be physical and it was physical throughout. Federal Hocking will always keep playing all the way to the end.”
Southern’s offense was led by Tristen Wolfe with 16 points, followed by Taylor McNickle with 14 and Dennis Teaford with 10. Trenton Deem had seven points, Chandler Drummer added five, while Bradley McCoy, Jaylen Blanks and Zac Beegle each chipped in with two points. Casey Pickens marked one point to round out the SHS total.
The Tornadoes were 17-of-50 (34 percent) from the field and 20-of-27 (74.1 percent) from the free throw line, including 15-of-19 in the fourth quarter. As a team SHS had 43 rebounds, nine assists, nine steals, seven blocks and 23 turnovers.
“We turned the ball over too much again but we’ll work on it and hopefully get better,” said Jeff Caldwell. “We were able to step up to the line and hit some foul shots late in the game and I think that was the key for us.”
Wolfe, Drummer and Teaford each had nine rebounds to lead Southern, followed by Beegle with six. Wolfe had a game-high six assists, and led SHS with three steals. Teaford anchored the Purple and Gold on the defensive end with five blocks in the win.
“We were a very unfocused club, I could see it occurring today at the shoot around and I saw it in practice on Monday,” said third year Lancers head coach Howie Caldwell. “I guess they thought after winning five that they were pretty good. So now we go back to the drawing board and start over again. Southern was more physical than what we were and I thought they played harder than what we did.”
Federal Hocking was led by Pete Crum with 15 points, Alfy Nichols with 12 and Peyton Seel with 10. Jonathan Snyder had six points, A.J. Cobb added four, Ivan Santiago had three and Taylor Gates finished with two for the Lancers.
FHHS shot 21-of-55 (38.2 percent) from the field and 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from the free throw line. As a team Federal Hocking finished with 23 rebounds, 10 assists, 13 steals, three blocks, and 17 turnovers.
“If you want me to be perfectly honest we tested their manhood at halftime,” Howie Caldwell said. “Six rebounds at halftime? That’s ridiculous fellas! I don’t think I’ve ever had a club that only had six rebounds at halftime. Should you have to challenge them that way? You should want to play the game and we didn’t want to do it.”
Seel led the Lancers with seven rebounds, while Santiago had a team-high three assists. Seel led the FHHS defense with five steals, while Crum, Snyder and Santiago each had one block.
“I thought Peyton and Alfy played an outstanding game,” Howie Caldwell said. “I thought the rest of them just stood around and watched. You cant win with two kids, you’ve got to have everybody.
Tuesday night also served as revenge for the Tornadoes, as FHHS defeated the Tornadoes 48-46 earlier this season in Stewart.
Federal Hocking’s five game winning streak was snapped with the loss, while Southern has now won six of its last seven games.
At 7-2 in league SHS holds a half-game edge on Waterford for first place. The Tornadoes will face Trimble on Thursday, The Tomcats are 5-2 in the league.
“I know its cliche but we have to go one game at a time,” Jeff Caldwell said. “We had to win this home game here tonight and we’ve got to prove that we can find a way to beat good teams on the road.”