MERCERVILLE, Ohio — The South Gallia girls basketball team put four quarters of effort into three periods of play, then ultimately ran out of gas over the final eight minutes of regulation Monday night during a 52-38 setback to visiting Federal Hocking in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Gallia County.
The host Lady Rebels (4-13, 1-12 TVC Hocking) executed a near-perfect game plan over the first 24 minutes of play, which led to a pair of four-point first half leads and a slim 29-26 deficit entering the final canto.
The Lady Lancers (9-9, 5-7), however, hit their first five shots of the fourth quarter and also forced seven SGHS turnovers as part of 23-12 surge down the stretch that allowed the Maroon and Gold to sneak away with the otherwise hard-fought 14-point triumph.
The Lady Rebels owned the largest leads of the first half at 4-0 and again at 12-8, but never managed to hold an edge after either of the first two periods of play.
FHHS did make a 9-2 charge out of the third quarter gate that resulted in a double-digit cushion with five minutes remaining, but the Red and Gold answered with a 9-2 run of their own to again pull to within a possession entering the fourth stanza.
Federal Hocking’s final run allowed the guests to secure a season sweep of the series after posting a 50-21 decision in Stewart back on December 17. The Lady Lancers have also now won five consecutive road contests.
SGHS coach Corey Small was discouraged by the final outcome, mainly because of the determined effort that his troops poured into this game. Small, however, was very encouraged with almost every other aspect of his squad’s performance.
“Honestly, I think we learned a lot about ourselves in this loss. I think we grew a lot tonight,” Small said. “It hurts to lose, but we are a young group that continues to show signs that we are getting better. We got smacked up there the first time we played Federal Hocking, so I think we showed ourselves how far we have progressed after coming out and battling the way we did for three quarters.
“Obviously, we need to put four quarters together … but I really think we took a step in that direction tonight. With the tournament coming, this was a really good sign. I’m very proud of the effort tonight, but we still have more work to do.”
South Gallia stormed out to a 4-0 edge less than three minutes into regulation and led all but 1:51 seconds of the opening period as the Lady Lancers came up scoreless on their first 10 offensive possessions.
Tamika Mayle, however, hit a basket with 33 seconds left in the quarter that gave FHHS its first lead of the night at 7-6. That score also stood after eight complete minutes of play.
The Lady Rebels countered with a 6-1 run to start the second canto, with Kiley Stapleton capping things with a baseline jumper at the 3:38 mark for a 12-8 edge.
Federal Hocking countered by tying things up at 13 with 2:12 left, then Hannah Dunfee capped a small 5-2 run with a basket with 49 seconds left that gave the guests a small 18-15 cushion at the break.
South Gallia’s slow-down, spread wide offensive approach paid its dividends in the first half as both teams shot 25 percent from the field. The Lady Rebels also committed only eight of the 17 turnovers through 16 minutes of action.
Amaya Howell hit two free throws a minute into the third quarter to close the deficit down to a single point, but the Lady Lancers answered with nine consecutive points from the duo of Dunfee and Destiny Tabler — which resulted in a 27-17 advantage with 5:03 remaining.
SGHS countered with six straight points and closed the final 4:37 on a 9-2 charge that turned a double-digit deficit into anyone’s contest at 29-26 headed into the fourth.
The Lady Rebels ultimately lost Erin Evans — the team’s leading scorer — to fouls with 5:50 left in regulation, then three other South Gallia players were disqualified with five fouls throughout the course of the finale.
Fed Hock’s lead grew to as many as 18 points as Tabler drilled two free throws with 1:16 left for a 51-33 cushion. South Gallia closed the game on a 5-1 run to wrap up the 14-point difference.
Federal Hocking outrebounded the hosts by a 33-24 overall margin, which included a 12-9 edge on the offensive glass. SGHS committed seven of its 19 turnovers in the final quarter, while the Maroon and Gold committed 16 turnovers.
South Gallia connected on 10-of-37 field goal attempts for 27 percent, including a 3-of-10 effort from behind the arc for 30 percent. The Red and Gold were also 15-of-36 at the free throw line for 42 percent.
Amaya Howell paced the hosts with 14 points, followed by Aaliyah Howell with 11 points and Evans with five markers. Stapleton was next with four points, while Olivia Hornsby and Christine Griffith rounded things out with two points apiece.
Griffith hauled in a team-high seven rebounds and Evans chipped in six boards. Stapleton and Aaliyah Howell also contributed four caroms each in the setback.
The Lady Lancers netted 16-of-44 field goal attempts for 36 percent, including a 3-of-16 effort from three-point range for 19 percent. The guests were also 17-of-34 at the charity stripe for 50 percent.
Dunfee paced FHHS with a game-high 17 points, followed by Tabler with 13 points and a team-best nine rebounds. Brittnie Jackson was next with five points, while Skylar Hatfield and Gracie Beha each chipped in four markers.
Audrey Blake added three points and both Mayle and Ashlynn Jarvis contributed two points apiece. Kaylli McPherson and Olivia Russell rounded out the winning tally with one point each.
There were a total of 55 personal fouls called in the contest, with 28 of those going against the Lady Rebels.
South Gallia returns to action Wednesday when it travels to Wellston for a non-conference matchup with the Lady Rockets.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.