RACINE, Ohio — Opportunity kept knocking, and the Tornadoes took full advantage.
The Southern boys basketball team hauled in 19 offensive rebounds and forced Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Wahama to commit 21 turnovers on Friday in Meigs County, leading the Purple and Gold to a 59-48 victory.
Southern (2-4, 2-2 TVC Hocking) — winning on its home floor for the first time this season —scored the the first four points of the game and stretched its lead to 9-3 with 5:15 left in first quarter.
Wahama (1-5, 1-3) — fresh off its first win of the season at Miller on Tuesday —responded with a 12-2 run and led 15-11 with 1:38 left in the opening period. Southern regained the lead, at 16-15, with back-to-back buckets, but the White Falcons beat the buzzer with their sixth trifecta of the period, and the guests took an 18-16 edge in the second.
WHS began the next frame with a 6-to-3 run, stretching its lead to 24-19 with 3:15 left in the half. Wahama was held without a field goal for the remainder of the stanza, however, as the Tornadoes ended the half with an 8-to-2 run and a 27-26 lead.
Southern — which was in front for the entirety of the second half — started the third period with a 10-to-2 run, increasing their advantage to 37-28 with 5:00 to go in the third. WHS scored five points within a span of 20 seconds, but was held off the board for the rest of the canto, as the hosts increased their lead to 45-33 headed into the fourth.
SHS scored six of the first eight points in the finale and led 51-35 with 3:20 to play. Wahama — which was 3-of-14 from the free throw line in the fourth — connected on six field goals over the remainder of the game, but Southern made 8-of-14 free throws down the stretch, sealing the 59-48 win.
Following the victory, SHS head coach Jeff Caldwell acknowledged his team’s free throw shooting is headed in the right direction, but still has work to be done.
“I still think we need to improve on it, but we did a little better tonight on free throw shooting,” said Caldwell. “Credit to Wahama, they came to play that’s for sure. They got hot in the first half, we sustained that, and were somehow able to get the lead going into half. I thought we played a really solid second half. It’s a good win, we’ll take it and prepare for the next one.”
WHS head coach Ron Bradley noted the Tornadoes’ defensive pressure as one of the reasons his team failed to follow up on the great beginning.
“We got off to a quick start, scored 18 points in the first quarter and played well,” Bradley said. “I thought, here we go, this is going to be a dog-fight until the end, but Southern turned up the pressure on us defensively and we just didn’t handle it very well. We have to learn to do that.”
For the game, Southern shot 17-of-54 (31.5 percent) from the field, including 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from beyond the arc. Wahama — which made six of its first eight three-point attempts — shot 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from long range in the game, part of a 17-of-50 (34 percent) performace from the field.
At the free throw line, SHS sank 23-of-42 (54.8 percent), while WHS made 6-of-18 (33.3 percent).
The hosts’ 19-to-7 advantage in offensive rebounding gave the Purple and Gold the edge in the overall rebounding battle by a 46-to-33 clip. Southern finished with team totals of 16 steals, six assists, five blocked shots and 13 turnovers. Meanwhile, the White Falcons combined for 11 assists, five steals, three blocked shots and 21 turnovers.
Caldwell talked about offensive rebounding being a focal point for the Tornadoes, as they look to create offense in different areas.
“We’ve been working on that, because we’ve been struggling to shoot the basketball and at the foul line,” Caldwell said. “Even tonight we missed some layups, but we’ve been talking about, you can create some offense with your offensive rebounding. We needed to do that tonight, I thought some guys did a really nice job on the offensive rebounding.”
Bradley was pleased with the effort his team put forth, but admitted that all of Southern’s extra chances were ultimately too much to overcome.
“We played hard, we had a pretty good effort, but there were two stats that were going to tell the tale, and they was turnovers and their offensive rebounds,” Bradley said. “So many times we let them shoot until they scored or we fouled them. I thought we had a chance to ease back in it late, but we just couldn’t make free throws.”
Weston Thorla and Arrow Drummer scored 11 points apiece to lead the victors, with Drummer grabbing 10 rebounds for a double-double. Cole Steele came up with 10 points for the hosts, while Austin Baker scored eight and pulled in a game-best 16 rebounds, nine of the offensive variety.
Trey McNickle and Brayden Cunningham contributed six points apiece to the winning cause, with McNickle earning a team-best four assists. The Tornado tally was capped off by Gage Barrett with five points and Jensen Anderson with two.
Thorla and McNickle led the SHS defense with five steals apiece, while Cunningham rejected two shots.
Jacob Lloyd led the White Falcons with 26 points, coming on six triples and a quartet of two-pointers. Dakota Belcher posted eight points and a team-best 13 rebounds for the guests, while Jonathan Frye added six points. Abram Pauley finished with five points and four assists for the Red and White, while Jacob Warth tallied three points.
Warth and Belcher led the WHS defense, with Warth picking up three steals and Belcher rejecting three shots.
These teams will meet again on Jan. 25 in Mason. Southern returns on the court at Ravenswood on Thursday, while Wahama is back in action at Wirt County on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.