ATHENS, Ohio — In basketball its all about how you react to your opposition.
The South Gallia Boys basketball team trailed Portsmouth Notre Dame 43-42 with 2:21 remaining in Tuesday’s Division IV district semi-final at the Convocation Center on the campus of Ohio University. It was the first time the Rebels had trailed since early in the first quarter and their reaction was truly remarkable. SGHS held the Titans scoreless over the remainder of the game and rallied to take the 50-43 triumph.
“We talk about being the underdog but we don’t feel that we are an underdog,” said second year South Gallia head coach Larry Howell. “Our record doesn’t quite reflect how good we can be. We are playing some good basketball right now, the kids are playing together, there’s not any animosity or selfishness among these kids, they’ve bought in and we are playing together.”
Notre Dame (18-6) grabbed the early 3-2 lead at the six minute mark of the first quarter but South Gallia (11-11) answered with an 11-4 run. NDHS took the momentum back with three points in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter to cut the deficit to 13-10 after eight minutes.
The Rebel defense came up big in the second period, holding the Titans to just 3-of-16 shooting from the field. On offense the Red and Gold marked 14 points in the quarter, led by Landon Hutchinson with eight, to take the 27-16 lead into the break.
The Rebels expanded their lead to 31-17 early in the second half but the Titans trimmed the lead to single digits with a 5-0 spurt. Both SGHS and NDHS marked five points in the final 2:30 of the third quarter and the Rebels held a 36-27 advantage with eight minutes to play.
Titans began the finale with a 10-2 run to cut the SGHS lead to 38-37 but the Brayden Greer and Ethan Spurlock marked back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 42-37 with three minutes remaining. Notre Dame hit a pair trifectas within 30 seconds of each other to take the lead with 2:21 remaining.
With two minutes left in the regulation Greer hit a pair of free throw to put SGHS back on top. Spurlock hit a layup with 29 seconds to play, expanding the lead to three points, while Greer added four more free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the 50-43 victory and the spot in Saturday’s district final.
“In the fourth quarter they were coming over and were aggravated that we were turning it over on offense,” said Howell. “I told them its not the offense, its that we’re not getting stops on defense. These kids like to be challenged and they accepted the challenge, they sat down in the stance and guarded them (Notre Dame).”
Greer led South Gallia with 13 points, including an 8-of-9 performance from the free throw line. Spurlock marked 12 points, all in the second half, while Landon Hutchinson had eight points, all of which came in the second quarter. Joesph Ehman hit a pair of triples for six points, while Devin Lucas and Ethan Swain both added five points. Mikey Wheeler finished with one point to round out the Rebel scoring.
South Gallia had 19 rebounds, led by Greer and Hutchinson with six each, while Hutchinson had the team’s lone rejection. Greer had nine of the Rebels’ 11 assists, while Swain led the defense with three of the team’s nine steals. South Gallia shot 19-of-30 (63.3 percent) from the field and 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) from the free throw line. The Rebels committed 25 turnovers in the game, including 10 in the fourth period.
The Titans were led by C.J. Smith with 12 points and Jack Kayser with 11. Daniel Ogg marked nine points, Dakota Smith added seven, while Will Toleman finished with four.
Notre Dame shot 16-of-50 (32 percent) from the field and 7-of-14 (50 percent) from the free throw line. NDHS had 21 rebounds, led by Ogg with 11, six assists, led by Will Haney with three and 13 steals, led by Kayser with four. The Titans had 11 turnovers in the the setback.
South Gallia will face top-seeded Peebels at noon on Saturday in the district final. The Rebels will be looking for their first ever district title, while the Indians will try for their third. Peebles’ last district title came in 1984. Both teams were district runner-ups in 2012.
The Rebels last district semifinal win came in 2012 when they defeated Notre Dame 47-44. Peebles defeated Trimble 49-47 Tuesday night with a last second two-pointer by junior Beau Justice.