RACINE, Ohio — It was simply a good night to be a Tornado.
The Southern boys basketball team had all-five starters score in double digits and the Purple and Gold controlled ever aspect of the game, as the Tornadoes stormed to a 88-41 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest South Gallia on Friday in Meigs County.
Southern (2-0, 1-0 TVC Hocking) — which held a presentation celebrating its 100th year of basketball prior to the game — never trailed in the contest, sinking 10 field goals in the opening period en route to a 24-8 lead.
The Tornadoes outscored South Gallia (0-2, 0-1) by a 32-13 clip in the second quarter, making the margin 56-21 at the midway point.
Southern continued to extended its lead after the break, outscoring the Rebels by a 17-to-11 clip in the third period to make the margin 73-32 with eight minutes to play.
The Purple and Gold capped off the 88-41 victory with a 15-to-8 fourth quarter run, with the final margin of 47 points being the largest lead of the night.
“Most importantly, our guys wanted to come out and defend our home court,” 10th-year SHS head coach Jeff Caldwell said. “It’s definitely something special to have 100 years of basketball, that’s amazing and it has been a winning tradition, but I really think that they just wanted to play well on their home court.”
As a team, the Purple and Gold earned a 41-to-27 rebounding advantage, including 15-to-11 on the offensive glass. Southern claimed a 19-to-9 edge in assists, and a 16-to-4 advantage in steals, while recording the game’s lone two rejections. SHS turned the ball over 15 times, while the Red and Gold gave possession away 27 times.
“Tonight, it was their pressure on the ball and their transition game,” first-year SGHS head coach Kent Wolfe said. “They got turnovers which led to easy baskets, 2-on-1. That’s Southern basketball, that’s the way they play the game. We’ll get over it and we’ll move on. We just have to keep working on the game, the ship hasn’t sank yet. We’re going to keep trying to find a way to be competitive.”
The Tornadoes shot 36-of-72 (50 percent) from the field, including 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc. From the free throw line, Southern was 12-of-22 (54.5 percent).
“I feel like we’re moving the ball and getting the ball up the floor really well,” Caldwell said. “We try to make the game up-tempo, because that’s when we play our best, but we have to be able to guard people in the half court. I thought South Gallia did a nice job in the second half, they were getting some back door cuts on us and just missed some shots around the basket.”
The Rebels made 15-of-48 (31.3 percent) field goal tries, including 3-of-9 (33.3 percent) three-point attempts. SGHS was 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from the charity stripe.
“We missed a lot of shots inside,” Wolfe said. “Not that it’s going to make a difference to the game, but if you make those it doesn’t look as bad. We shoot foul shots really well in practice, but in the two games we’ve played so far we haven’t shot free throws very well.”
The Tornado offense led by Dylan Smith and Brayden Cunningham with 14 points apiece, to go with eight and seven rebounds respectively. Smith also earned a game-best six assists for the Purple and Gold. Weston Thorla scored 13 points in the win, Trey McNickle added 12 points, while Jensen Anderson poured in 10.
Off the bench for Southern, Coltin Parker accounted for eight points, Austin Baker added six, Austin Vancooney scored five, Alex VanMeter chipped in with four, and Jason Counts posted a pair.
“One thing about it, you don’t gauge your season on two games,” said Caldwell. “We’ve played two pretty nice games, but we have a pretty young group, so you have to get ready to play each game. I was pleased with how they came out tonight intensity-wise.”
The Tornado defense was led by Cunningham and McNickle with three steals and one block each.
The Rebels were led by Eli Ellis with 21 points and six rebounds, followed by Austin Stapleton with seven points and five boards. Curtis Haner posted six points and team-highs of four assists and two steals, Austin Day added four points, while Bryceton Folden contributed three points to the SGHS cause.
“We’re trying to find an identity,” Wolfe said. “They just give us so many matchup problems, they’re multi-dimensional. They can put Cunningham in or they can go small. We couldn’t get back, they just out-ran us. We have not taken charges all year and we took a few tonight, so I liked that.”
After visiting River Valley on Saturday, Southern resumes TVC Hocking play on Tuesday at Trimble. The Rebels are back in action on Tuesday for their home opener against Federal Hocking.
The rematch between SHS and SGHS is set to take place on Jan. 19 in Mercerville.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.