IRONTON, Ohio — A painful bump on the conference road.
The Gallia Academy boys basketball team trailed the final 27-plus minutes of regulation as host Ironton built an eight-point lead through three quarters and eventually held on for a 59-57 decision on Friday night in an Ohio Valley Conference contest in Lawrence County.
The visiting Blue Devils (3-2, 1-1 OVC) built leads of 3-0 and 11-9 in the opening four minutes of play, but an Ethan Wilson 3-pointer at the 3:43 mark gave the Fighting Tigers (2-1, 1-1) what proved to be a permanent cushion for the rest of the evening.
The Orange and Black ultimately built a slim 18-17 first quarter lead, with Wilson and Gallia Academy junior big man Zach Loveday both contributing 11 points apiece in the opening frame.
That, however, was where the similarities ended for each squad’s best player.
Loveday — after scoring four quick points — ended up picking up a second personal foul early in the second, reducing the 7-foot-1 center to a simple spectator for the rest of the half.
Wilson went to score six points in the second frame as part of 13-7 surge that allowed IHS to open up a 31-24 advantage headed into the break.
Charlie Large and Trent Milleson collectively cranked out 14 points during a 15-14 Ironton run to start the second half, giving the hosts a 46-38 edge headed into the finale.
The Fighting Tigers twice led by 11 points down the stretch, but a Cory Call layup with 4:25 left in regulation capped an 8-2 charge that pulled the deficit to within a basket at 48-46.
Ironton retaliated with four quick points to extend the lead back out to 52-46 with 2:20 left, then Loveday picked up his fifth and final foul with 1:34 remaining. Wilson sank both free throws for a 54-46 lead.
Bailey Walked capped an 8-2 run with an old-fashioned 3-point play with 47 seconds remaining, but the Blue and White were ultimately never closer than the 56-54 deficit.
Trailing 59-57 with eight seconds left, Gallia Academy came up empty on its game-tying attempt. Wilson ended up coming down with the rebound as time expired, allowing IHS to wrap up its first league win of the year.
The Blue Devils claimed a slim 32-30 advantage in rebounds, including a 15-9 edge on the offensive glass. Both teams committed 10 turnovers apiece in the contest.
GAHS connected on 20-of-54 field goal attempts for 37 percent, including a 3-of-11 effort from behind the arc for 27 percent. The Blue Devils also went 14-of-17 at the free throw line for 82 percent.
Loveday — who went scoreless in the fourth quarter — led the guests with a double-double effort of 17 points and 12 rebounds. Justin McClelland was next with a dozen points, all of which came in the second half.
Call was next with 10 points and Caleb Henry added nine markers, while Logan Blouir completed the scoring with four markers.
Ironton went 20-of-51 from the floor for 39 percent, including a 3-of-6 effort from 3-point range for 50 percent. The hosts were also 16-of-26 at the charity stripe for 62 percent.
Wilson led the Fighting Tigers with a game-high 23 points, followed by Large with 19 points and Jordan Grizzle with nine points. Milleson completed the winning tally with eight markers.
Large also hauled in a team-best nine caroms for the victors.
Gallia Academy returns to action on Friday, Dec. 28, when it travels to Logan for a non-conference matchup at 7 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.