MASON, W.Va. — On a night in which Wahama honored one of its finest, the hosts also provided one fine finish to commemorate the special occasion.
Trailing 36-20 in the early moments of the fourth quarter, the White Falcons made a 20-2 surge over the final six minutes of regulation and came away with a 40-38 victory over visiting Southern in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division boys basketball contest at the newly-christened Gary Clark Court in Mason County.
Wahama honored athletic Hall of Famer and 40-plus-year sports writer Gary Clark at halftime for his numerous contributions to the Bend Area school by announcing that the basketball floor, starting on this date of December 15, would forever be acknowledged as Gary Clark Court.
That inspiration certainly paid dividends in the second half, as WHS (2-1, 2-1 TVC Hocking) outscored the Tornadoes (0-6, 0-4) by a sizable 33-14 overall margin. Wahama, however, only led for 35 seconds in the entire contest — including the final 22 ticks after Philip Hoffman netted a basket for a 40-38 cushion.
Both teams were tied at seven after eight minutes of play, but Wahama missed all nine of its shot attempts and committed eight turnovers in the second quarter — which allowed Southern to go on a 17-0 run while claiming a 24-7 halftime advantage.
The hosts answered with a 13-6 run out of the break to whittle the lead down to 30-20, but the Purple and Gold answered with six straight points to start the fourth period for a 36-20 edge with 6:14 left in regulation.
Wahama countered with 16 consecutive points and pulled even at 36-all following a basket by Ricky Kearns with 1:56 left in regulation, then Hoffman hit two free throws with 1:40 remaining to give WHS its first lead of the night at 38-36.
Crenson Rogers tied things for Southern with a basket at the 1:27 mark, then Hoffman provided the eventual game-winning heroics a little over a minute later — allowing the Red and White to move to 1-0 all-time on Clark Court.
Hoffman led the hosts with a game-high 21 points, followed by Ricky Kearns with seven points. Mason Hicks, Ryan Thomas and Travis Kearns also added four markers apiece to the winning cause.
Rogers posted 12 of his team-high 14 points in the first half, while Blake Johnson and Kody Greene respectively chipped in seven and six markers for the Tornadoes. Dylan Smith was next with five points, while Weston Thorla, Jonah Hoback and Trey Pickens rounded things out with two markers each.
The hosts were 6-of-19 at the free throw line for 32 percent, while SHS went 7-of-14 at the charity stripe for 50 percent.
Wahama travels to Buffalo Wednesday and then heads to Belpre Friday night for a TVC Hocking matchup. Southern returns to action Saturday when it travels to Ironton Saint Joseph. All three games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.