CENTENARY, Ohio — When things finally seemed at their best, the Blue Devils’ fortunes took a turn for the worst.
Visiting Coal Grove reeled off nine straight points to start the fourth quarter and ultimately held on for a hard-fought 51-48 victory over the Gallia Academy boys basketball team Friday night during an Ohio Valley Conference matchup in Gallia County.
The host Blue Devils (1-2, 0-1 OVC) and the Hornets (1-3, 1-1) went toe-to-toe for the better part of 32 minutes, as the game itself featured seven ties and 11 lead changes without either squad leading by more than two possessions.
Ironically, CGHS hit consecutive trifectas just 35 seconds into regulation to establish the first of three 6-point advantages — the largest lead for either team throughout the course of the night.
The Blue and White countered with an 8-2 run over the next 2:32 while tying things up at eight, but Malachi Wheeler capped an 8-2 run with a basket with 1:10 remaining — giving the guests a 16-10 edge.
Logan Blouir poured in a pair of baskets over the final minute of the first quarter while trimming the deficit down to 16-14.
Things really got interesting in the second frame as there were four ties and eight lead changes, with neither team holding a lead greater than two points.
Reece Thomas gave GAHS its first lead with a basket at the 3:01 mark, making it a 19-18 contest at the time. It was also the first of four 1-point Blue Devil leads throughout the period.
Wheeler gave Coal Grove its final lead of the first half at 26-25 with a basket with 38 seconds left, but a Damon Cremeens free throw with 18.5 seconds remaining eventually forced a 26-all tie headed into the halftime break.
The Blue Devils never trailed in the third quarter and twice built leads of four points, the last of which came at 34-30 with 1:03 remaining in the stanza.
The Hornets answered with a Borders 3-pointer to close to within a point 20 seconds later, but then Borders went down with a knee injury away from the ball on the ensuing GAHS possession — temporarily bringing play to a stoppage with 24.4 seconds left.
The Blue Devils ran the remaining time off of the clock, but not before Blouir drilled an 18-footer at the buzzer that allowed the hosts to take a 36-33 cushion into the finale.
Trevor Carey hit consecutive baskets for Coal Grove 59 seconds into the fourth, providing what proved to be a permanent lead at 37-36. Those baskets also sparked the 9-point swing that resulted in a 42-36 lead with 5:42 remaining.
The Blue and White countered as Blouir capped a 7-2 run with consecutive free throws at the 2:31 mark, making it a 44-43 contest. Gallia Academy was also never closer the rest of the way.
The Hornets built up a pair of 5-point leads, but Cooper Davis scored on an offensive putback with five seconds left — allowing the hosts to again get within a possession at 51-48.
Coal Grove missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with 4.1 seconds remaining. Blouir hauled in the rebound and fired a pass out to Davis near mid-court.
Davis fired a desperation heave from the right side of midcourt as the horn sounded, the ball ultimately missed its mark — allowing the Red and Black to sneak away with the 3-point triumph.
Coal Grove outrebounded the hosts by a 27-26 overall margin, including a 9-7 edge on the offensive glass. The Hornets also committed 18 of the 33 turnovers in the game.
Gallia Academy connected on 18-of-42 field goal attempts for 43 percent, which included a 1-of-11 effort from behind the arc for nine percent. GAHS was also 11-of-18 at the free throw line for 61 percent.
Blouir led the Blue Devils with a game-high 19 points, followed by Thomas with nine markers. Cremeens and Isaac Clary were next with eight points and matching team-bests of six rebounds apiece.
Davis and Justin Wilcoxon completed the scoring with two points each.
The Hornets netted 17-of-47 field goal tries for 36 percent, including a 6-of-23 effort from behind the arc for 26 percent. CGHS was also 11-of-14 at the charity stripe for 79 percent.
Wheeler paced the guests with 16 points and six rebounds, followed by Evan Gannon with 13 points and Borders with 11 markers. Carey and Jarren Hicks completed the winning tally with six and five points, respectively.
Gallia Academy returns to action Tuesday when it travels to South Point for an OVC matchup at 7 p.m.
Note: The Ironton game that was postponed this past Tuesday has been rescheduled for Friday, Dec. 27.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.