RACINE, Ohio — “That’s the best game we’ve played all year.”
The words of second-year Southern girls basketball coach Kent Wolfe after the Lady Tornadoes powered to a 60-42 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Belpre, on Saturday afternoon in Meigs County.
The Lady Golden Eagles (5-3, 3-3 TVC Hocking) charged out to a 9-4 advantage, but the Lady Tornadoes (6-2, 5-1) ended the opening stanza with a 8-0 run and led 12-9. Belpre rallied back to take a 16-14 lead two minutes into the second quarter, but Southern outscored the guests 15-to-4 over the remainder of the first half, giving the Purple and Gold a 29-20 halftime edge.
Southern was held scoreless for the first four minutes of the second half, as BHS cut the deficit to 29-25. The Lady Tornadoes scored 13 points over the final four minutes of the third period, expanding the advantage to 42-34.
The Purple and Gold — who sank 9-of-13 free throws in the fourth period — allowed Belpre to make only one field goal over the final eight minutes and SHS cruised to the 60-42 win.
“We haven’t played that way all year,” SHS head coach Kent Wolfe said. “Overall, team-wise I thought this was the best we’ve played all year. Now we just have to build from that and keep getting better.”
Faith Teaford led the victors with 21 points, followed by Ali Deem with 14 and Jansen Wolfe with 12. Macie Michael posted seven points, Sierra Cleland added four, while Haley Hill rounded out the SHS total with two points.
The Purple and Gold shot 28-of-34 (82.3 percent) from the charity stripe and 16-of-41 (39 percent) from the field in the triumph, numbers that Coach Wolfe was more than happy with afterwards.
“I was a little worried about us in the first seven games,” Coach Wolfe said. “We were 5-2, but we had the stats of a 2-5 team. We didn’t shoot it well from the perimeter, we didn’t shoot it well from the foul line and we averaged over 20 turnovers. Today, we shot better both from the field and the foul line and we didn’t turn the ball over as much as we had.”
Southern finished with 40 rebounds, 13 assists, 10 steals and 18 turnovers in the win. Wolfe marked team-highs in rebounds with 12 and assists with four, while Teaford had nine boards and Michael marked a team-best four steals.
Belpre, which had 17 rebounds as a team, was led offensively by Hannah Lawrentz with 12 points and Katelyn Hughes with 10. Cheyenne Barker marked nine points, Trinidy King added six, while Kenzie Reed and Daisy Cowdery finished with three and two points respectively. The Lady Golden Eagles shot 14-of-21 (66.7 percent) from the free throw line and 11-of-55 (20 percent) from the field in the loss.
The Lady Tornadoes — who split with BHS last season — will look to sweep Belpre on January 28, in Washington County, but Coach Wolfe knows that it won’t be easy.
“Give all the credit to the girls, I’m really proud of them,” said Coach Wolfe. “Belpre’s a pretty good team, and they’re a dangerous team because of their perimeter shooting. We’re going to have a tough way of it up there, it’s a tough place.”
Southern — which hosted Federal Hocking on Monday — returns to action on December 28, when Williamstown visits Racine.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.