MERCERVILLE, Ohio — An 18-5 fourth quarter surge ultimately allowed the Southern boys basketball team to rally back from a 13-point first half deficit and claim a hard-fought 43-38 victory over host South Gallia in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Gallia County.
The visiting Tornadoes (1-0, 1-0 TVC Hocking) jumped out to an early 6-0 advantage in their season opener, but the Rebels (1-2, 0-2) responded with a 12-2 charge over the final 4:55 of the opening period to claim a 12-8 edge after eight minutes.
SGHS kept that momentum going into the second canto, as the hosts reeled off a 12-3 run to take their biggest lead of the night at 24-11 with 3:10 left in the first half. The Tornadoes rallied with a small 4-1 spurt to close out the half facing a 25-15 intermission deficit.
SHS cut the lead down to four points (27-23) with 3:24 left in the third, but the hosts retaliated with six straight points and a 6-2 run to secure a 33-25 lead headed into the finale.
Taylor McNickle drained a three-pointer with 3:23 left in regulation to cap a 12-2 run that gave the guests a 37-35 edge, their first lead since the first quarter. South Gallia countered with a basket 13 seconds later to again knot things up at 37, but the Tornadoes closed the final 1:44 of regulation with a 6-1 run to wrap up the five-point outcome.
Chandler Drummer gave SHS the lead permanently (39-37) with a goal underneath at the 1:44 mark, then Tristen Wolfe added a basket and two free throws down the stretch to secure the road triumph.
It was far from a perfect night for the Tornadoes, as the guests committed 21 turnovers in the contest — including a dozen in the second half. However, as SHS coach Jeff Caldwell noted afterwards, ugly wins are still nice to get — especially on the road.
“I think this is a great win for us to start the season. We knew South Gallia was going to play us hard and they did, but we just kept battling and picked up our defense intensity in the second half,” Caldwell said. “We needed some people to step up and make some big plays for us down the stretch, and that’s what we did. I thought our effort in the second half was the key.”
The Tornadoes outscored SGHS by a 28-13 margin over the final 16 minutes of regulation, and both Wolfe and McNickle had eight points apiece in the final period. That duo had also gone scoreless leading up to the fourth quarter.
On the other side of things, SGHS coach Larry Howell was pleased with how well his kids executed a game plan that was focused on slowing down the 6-foot-6 Drummer inside. With only 11 turnovers, the Rebels played a near-prefect contest for 28 minutes.
But, as Howell noted afterwards, games last 32 minutes — which made this loss a little tougher to stomach.
“We came out and did exactly what we were suppose to do for the better part of three quarters, but we just didn’t finish tonight when we needed to,” Howell said. “We’re young and we constantly talk in practice about the importance of finishing, but we just haven’t quite gotten used to playing 32 minutes of basketball just yet. We had our opportunities tonight, but we just didn’t finish — simple as that.”
The Tornadoes connected on 18-of-49 field goal attempts for 37 percent, including a 2-of-13 effort from three-point range for 15 percent. The guests also claimed a 43-31 edge in total rebounds, but the Rebels gained a small 15-14 edge on the offensive glass.
SGHS was 14-of-60 overall from the field for 23 percent, including a 2-of-24 effort from three-point range for just eight percent. The hosts netted 8-of-14 free throw attempts for 57 percent, while the Tornadoes went 5-of-11 at the charity stripe for 45 percent.
Drummer led Southern with 12 points before fouling out with 48 seconds left in regulation, followed by Wolfe and McNickle with eight markers each. Casey Pickens added seven points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while Trenton Deem and Adam Pape rounded things out with four markers apiece.
Kody Lambert paced South Gallia with a game-high 14 points, followed by Michael Wheeler with seven markers and a team-best eight rebounds. Brayden Greer and Gus Slone both chipped in six points apiece to the losing effort, while Landon Hutchinson rounded things out with five markers.