Southern slips past White Falcons, 51-48

By Alex Hawley -

Southern sophomore Dylan Smith shoots a layup in traffic, during the second half of the Tornadoes’ 51-48 victory over Wahama, Tuesday night in Racine.

Alex Hawley/OVP Sports

RACINE, Ohio — Revenge at it’s finest.

The Southern boys basketball team — which suffered a two-point loss at Wahama on December 15 — extracted some revenge Tuesday night, holding off the visiting White Falcons for a 51-48 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division victory.

The Tornadoes (3-13, 3-8 TVC Hocking) charged out to a 9-2 lead in the opening three minutes, but Wahama (5-6, 5-4) answered with a 10-1 run to take a 12-10 lead with 1:28 to play in the first period. Southern scored five unanswered points to end the quarter with a 15-12 advantage.

The White Falcons tied the game twice in the opening minute of the second quarter, but the Purple and Gold extended the lead to 21-17 with 5:41 remaining in the first half. However, SHS was held scoreless for the remainder the half, as Wahama went on a 10-0 run and led 27-21 at halftime.

Wahama held a 19-to-12 rebounding advantage in the first half, including a 7-to-3 advantage on the offensive glass.

The Tornadoes outscored the White Falcons 16-to-10 in the third quarter, evening the game at 37 with eight minutes to play. Southern shot 7-of-16 in the third and made both of its free throw attempts, while Wahama was 3-of-8 from the field and 4-of-8 from the charity stripe in the period.

SHS junior Trey Pickens sank a three pointer to open the fourth quarter, which gave the Purple and Gold its first lead since the 1:40 mark of the second stanza. Southern’s lead grew to five points three minutes into the fourth, but Wahama battled back to within one point, 44-43, with 3:48 left.

The Tornadoes outscored the Red and White 5-to-2 over the next spurt, making the SHS lead 49-45 with 34 seconds to play. Wahama missed a trio three-point attempts in the final 30 seconds, but the White Falcons grabbed all three offensive boards and junior Philip Hoffman made a trifecta with five seconds left on the clock to pull WHS within one.

Southern junior Tylar Blevins made 2-of-2 free throw attempts with four seconds left, giving SHS the 51-48 lead. Wahama attempted to force overtime with a long three-pointer at the buzzer, but the shot fell short and the Tornadoes claimed the three-point win.

“It’s a good thing to tough-out a game like that,” SHS head coach Jeff Caldwell said. “Both teams played hard all the way through and we kind of found a way to win it there at the end. It was in doubt all the way but our guys hit some foul shots.”

SHS junior Crenson Rogers paced the Purple and Gold with 15 points and six rebounds, followed by Blevins with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Dylan Smith scored 10 points to go with four assists, while Pickens had eight points and five boards in the win. Southern’s scoring output was rounded out by Blake Johnson and Clayton Wood with three and two points respectively. Wood led the SHS defense with three steals, while Rogers and Jaylen Blanks each recorded two.

The Tornadoes shot 13-of-21 (61.9 percent) from free throw line and 18-of-46 (39.1 percent) from the field, including 2-of-9 (22.2 percent) from beyond the arc. As a team the Purple and Gold marked 22 defensive rebounds, seven offensive boards, nine assists, nine steals, one blocked shot and 16 turnovers.

“I really challenged them at halftime,” Caldwell said. “We weren’t rebounding on defense, but I felt like we were wasting opportunities to get offensive rebounds too. I think our big guys, Trey and Crenson, kind of took that to heart and they went out and did a nice job rebounding in the second half.”

Southern will look to win back-to-back games for the first time this year on Saturday at 12-2 South Gallia. The Rebels, who have won eight straight games, defeated the Tornadoes by a 65-50 count on December 11 at SHS.

Wahama senior Mason Hicks led the Red and White with 17 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Hoffman with 17 points and eight boards. Noah Litchfield scored five points, while Ryan Thomas added three points, six rebounds and a game-best five assists before fouling out with 1:53 to play Nolan Pierce, Ricky Kearns and Travis Kearns each scored two points for the White Falcons in the setback. Hicks also led Wahama on defense with three steals and three blocked shots, while Litchfield came away with three steals.

“We just shot the ball terribly from the free throw line,” third-year WHS head coach Ron Bradley said. “We didn’t do ourselves any favors there and that’s the difference in the ball game. I thought our free throws and missing easy shots around the rim really hurt us.”

The Red and White shot 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from the charity stripe and 18-of-53 (34 percent) from the field, including 4-of-21 (19 percent) from three-point range. The White Falcons combined for 22 defensive rebounds, 11 offensive rebounds, 11 assists, nine steals, three blocked shots and 18 turnovers.

“These are young kids, they’re pretty resilient and we’ll just come back to practice tomorrow,” Bradley said. “We have to start playing this game a little smarter with a better basketball IQ. We’re 11 games in, with 30-some practices, and we’re still making a lot of the same mistakes we were early in the year. That has to change.”

Wahama returns to the court on Friday when 9-8 Belpre visits Mason. The Golden Eagles have won back-to-back games and defeated WHS by a 70-53 final on December 18 in Washington County.

Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.

Southern sophomore Dylan Smith shoots a layup in traffic, during the second half of the Tornadoes’ 51-48 victory over Wahama, Tuesday night in Racine. sophomore Dylan Smith shoots a layup in traffic, during the second half of the Tornadoes’ 51-48 victory over Wahama, Tuesday night in Racine. Alex Hawley/OVP Sports

By Alex Hawley