MERCERVILLE, Ohio — After trying to get in the door for a little over three years, senior Brayden Hammond wasted no time breaking into the club.
Hammond — a 4-year starter for the South Gallia boys basketball team — became the seventh player and sixth boy in program history to surpass the 1,000-point mark in a career Friday night during a 59-48 victory over visiting Belpre in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Gallia County.
Hammond — who entered the night needing nine points to reach quadruple digits — scored the first nine SGHS points and reached his historic feat on the second-of-two free throws with 3:47 remaining in the opening frame for a 9-4 edge.
The Rebels (6-5, 3-3 TVC Hocking) — who trailed 2-0 early on — closed the initial stanza with a small 4-2 run and secured a 13-6 lead through eight minutes of play.
The Golden Eagles (4-9, 2-4) were never closer the rest of the way as the hosts hit their first four shot attempts and made an 11-2 surge in the first two minutes of the second canto while extending the cushion out to 24-8.
Hammond added a free throw with 5:17 left for the largest South Gallia lead in the first half at 25-8, but BHS answered with a 17-13 run and closed the halftime deficit down to 38-25.
Again, Belpre was never closer than the 13-point margin at the break, and the hosts twice led by 18 points in the third frame following 12-7 run that resulted in a 50-32 advantage entering the finale.
Tanner Boothe gave the Rebels their largest lead of the game with a basket 53 seconds into the fourth en route to a 52-32 edge. Belpre closed regulation with a 16-7 charge to wrap up the 11-point outcome.
Hammond — who scored a game-high 22 points — joins Jason Merrick, Josh Waugh, Curt Waugh, Brayden Greer and Landon Hutchinson as Rebel members of the 1,000-point club. Jennifer Sheridan is the lone member of the same group on the girls side.
After posting a double-double with 15 rebounds, Hammond spoke about reaching this milestone … particularly during a win in front of the home crowd.
“I was a little nervous coming out here tonight, but I was able to get in a groove early and the team helped me get this done,” Hammond said. “We came into this game for the W and most importantly we got that W, and that’s the part I’m proudest of. This is a big accomplishment for me in my career, but I’m happier to celebrate it with teammates in my home gym and in a victory. I’m just glad that we could get the win.”
The Rebels outrebounded the guests by a 32-29 overall margin, but the Golden Eagles claimed a 13-10 edge on the offensive glass. BHS also committed 18 of the 33 turnovers in the contest.
South Gallia made 24-of-52 field goal attempts for 46 percent, including a 1-of-8 effort from 3-point territory for 13 percent. The hosts were also 10-of-14 at the free throw line for 71 percent.
Noah Cremeens and Tristan Saber followed Hammond for SGHS with 10 points each, with Boothe adding eight markers to go along with seven caroms. Blaik Saunders and Kyeler Rossiter completed the winning tally with seven points and two points.
Belpre netted 16-of-56 shot attempts for 29 percent, including a 2-of-14 performance from behind the arc for 14 percent. The guests also sank 5-of-6 charity tosses for 83 percent.
Tucker Liston paced the Golden Eagles with 17 points and nine rebounds, followed by Jacob Smeeks with 13 points and Jake Alkire with eight markers.
South Gallia returns to action Tuesday when it travels to Bidwell to face River Valley in a battle of Gallia County schools at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.