MERCERVILLE, Ohio — It’s not how you start something, but rather how you finish it.
Visiting Miller overcame an 8-point first quarter deficit and ultimately made a 63-49 charge the rest of the way while shocking the South Gallia boys basketball team during a 73-67 decision Tuesday night in a Division IV Southeast 1 sectional semifinal in Gallia County.
The 13th seeded Rebels (10-10) were hitting on all cylinders early on as the hosts had six players score — led by Brayden Hammond with five points — while building an 18-10 cushion through one period of play.
Tanner Boothe poured in seven points for SGHS in the second canto, but four Quin McCabe trifectas propelled the Falcons (5-14) on a 24-17 run that whittle the Rebel lead down 35-34 entering the intermission.
Back-to-back Blaik Saunders baskets capped an 11-5 South Gallia run with 3:26 left in the third, giving the Red and Gold their largest second half lead at 46-39.
MHS, however, countered with 12 straight points over the next 2:23 — including the eventual go-ahead for good bucket from Logan Doughty with 1:55 left — en route to a 53-46 edge.
The Rebels answered with four straight points — including a Tristan Saber basket at the buzzer — to whittle the gap down to 53-50 entering the finale.
The Purple and White made a 6-1 run in the opening three minutes of the fourth to increase their lead out to 59-51, then secured their largest lead of the game after a Doughty basket with 4:03 remaining made it 63-54.
SGHS ultimately closed the final four minutes of the game with a 13-11 run, but never came closer than 69-65 with 27 seconds to go.
South Gallia made 24 total field goals — including eight 3-pointers — and also went 9-of-17 at the free throw line for 53 percent.
Hammond paced the hosts with 16 points, while Saunders and Boothe both followed with 11 points apiece. Brycen Stanley added 10 markers, with Saber and Ean Combs each contributing seven points. Noah Cremeens completed the tally with three points.
Miller neted 27 total field goals — including eight trifectas — and also went 11-of-16 at the charity stripe for 69 percent.
Doughty and Sam Rutter led MHS with 18 points each, followed by McCabe with 15 points and Kylan McClain with 11 markers. Tre McCoy and Corey Elson completed the winning mark with eight and three points respectively.
Miller advances to the sectional final and will travel to fourth seeded Pike Western for a tipoff at 7 p.m. Friday night.
South Gallia completes its regular season schedule on Tuesday when it hosts Waterford at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.