MERCERVILLE, Ohio — There’s nothing wrong with a little drama.
The Eastern boys basketball team claimed a 40-39 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division triumph over host South Gallia, on Thursday night in Gallia County.
The Rebels (0-3, 0-1 TVC Hocking) took a one-point, 39-38 lead with two seconds remaining in regulation, but SGHS fouled Eastern (1-1, 1-0) sophomore Sharp Facemyer on his last-second shot attempt, that came from well beyond midcourt.
With the game clock at zero, Sharp Facemyer missed the first of his three throws, but sank the next two, giving Eastern the 40-39 victory.
“Sharp went 1-of-12 from the field on Friday, but he stepped up and made shots when he needed to tonight,” Eastern head coach Jeremy Hill said. “His cousin, Jett Facemyer didn’t have his best effort, but we had other guys step up. That’s a sign of a good ball club, when someone steps up and takes the place of a scorer.”
South Gallia led 6-2, 4:45 into the game, but Eastern fought back to take a 7-6 lead by the end of the first canto.
Less than a minute into the second quarter, EHS senior Jett Facemyer — the Eagles top returnee, who averaged over 23 points per game last season — picked up his third foul and was forced the sit for the remainder of the half.
South Gallia took advantage initially, jumping out to a 10-7 lead, but Eastern ended the first half with a 13-8 run and a 20-18 lead.
“That’s something we can build on and give the other guys confidence,” Coach Hill said of his team’s ability to play without its senior leader. “I’m proud of our effort, you never want to play as sloppy as we did, but sometimes you can play a bad game and still come out on top.”
The teams exchanged the lead four times in the third quarter, but Eastern still led by two, 29-27, headed into the finale.
Eastern expanded its lead to four, just 30 seconds into the fourth, but South Gallia answered with a 6-0 run and led 33-31 with 4:30 remaining. However, the Eagles scored the next five points — making 5-of-6 free throw attempts — retaking the lead at 36-33.
With 52 seconds left, SGHS took a 37-36 advantage, as Caleb Henry came up with a steal and break-away layup. Eastern answered with 44 seconds left, as Sharp Facemyer made 2-of-2 free throw attempts. With two seconds left in the game, Caleb Henry sank a jump shot to give the Rebels a one-point lead, but Sharp Facemyer made two clutch free throws with no time on the clock, giving EHS the 40-39 win.
“That’s my fault, because we haven’t covered that,” SGHS head coach Larry Howell said of the foul that sent Sharp Facemyer to the line. “We haven’t got to that yet and, as a coach, you should get to that by now. We didn’t lost the game on that play, we lost the game with turnovers, free throws and missed layups. You don’t lose games at the end, you lose them in the duration. I’m proud of the kids, they made the plays to win the game.”
Both team finished the game with 18 rebounds, with the Eagles holding a 5-to-4 edge on the offensive glass. The Eagles committed 18 turnovers, while SGHS gave the ball away 17 times.
“We did everything but win the game,” Coach Howell said. “We got beat at Symmes Valley on Friday and now that’s two games that we’ve had a pretty good chance to win. You can’t make those turnovers and mental mistakes.”
Eastern was 18-of-24 (75 percent) from the free throw line, including 9-of-11 (81.8 percent) in the final period. The Eagles shot just 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) from the field, including 2-of-6 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
“We shot the ball well from the free throw line, but we didn’t shoot well from the field,” said Coach Hill. “We missed a lot of layups, but we did get a win and that’s something we’re proud of. If we could have played better basketball, we could be happier about the win, but a win is a win.”
The Rebels were 5-of-14 (35.7 percent) from the free throw line and 16-of-33 (48.5 percent) from the field, including 2-of-8 (25 percent) from deep.
“We made plays when we had to,” Coach Howell said. “We’re not going to be a high possession team. Our kids were gritty on defense tonight, I thought we did a pretty good job on Jett and I’m proud of our kids. We talked with the kids about competing better and getting better daily, and I think we did that tonight.”
Eastern’s offense was led by sophomore Sharp Facemyer with 14 points, followed by Jon Wolfe with eight points and two assists. Jett Facemyer scored seven points, Corbett Catlett added six, while Garrett Barringer scored four and Nate Dust scored one to round out the EHS total.
Wolfe led the Eagle defense with a trio steals. Wolfe and Sharp Facemyer also led EHS on the boards with five rebounds apiece.
Caleb Henry led the Rebels with 16 points, followed by Eli Ellis and Josh Henry with six each. Colton Bowers scored four, Curtis Haner and Joey Woodall each added three, while Austin Day scored one point. Haner had a team-best two assists, while Caleb Henry had team-highs in rebounds and steals, with five and three respectively.
These teams will meet again on February 7, in Tuppers Plains.
Both teams are scheduled to face Trimble next, as Eastern hosts the Tomcats on Friday, and SGHS visits Glouster on Tuesday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.