CENTENARY, Ohio — Nothing like winning in front of the home crowd.
The Gallia Academy boys basketball team defeated the Miami Trace Panthers (5-15) by a score of 79-58 Friday evening in the Division II Southeast 2 Tournament to win their third sectional championship in five years.
This was also the Blue Devils’ (15-7) first time winning the section on their home court during that 5-year span.
The Blue and White started Friday’s game with a 6-0 lead, but the Panthers hit a 3-pointer to instantly cut said lead in half.
It was a bit of ebb and pull in the first quarter, with the home team getting ahead but the visitors come right back.
After a 10-10 tie, the Blue Devils scored the last 10 points of the quarter to go into the second with a 20-10 lead.
The Blue and White extended that scoring run to 17-2 through the first four minutes of the second quarter.
The biggest run the Yellow and Black could string together is five points as they put up another 10-point quarter to go into halftime down 35-20.
The two squads traded baskets to start the second half.
With five minutes to go in the third, the Blue Devils extended their lead to 20 points.
However, the Panthers’ 3-point shooting gets the lead below the 20-point mark on more than one occasion.
The road team doesn’t get a single rebound in the third as they enter the fourth quarter at a 59-41 disadvantage.
There was only one point scored in the first three minutes of the final quarter, a situation which only benefited the Blue and White.
The Blue Devils kept the score hovering around the 20-point mark throughout the fourth quarter, allowing the home team to cruise to its section title.
Gallia Academy head coach Gary Harrison said having some extra time to practice really benefited his team.
“During the regular season, we might only have two or four nights to prepare for a game,” he said. “So it was nice to have a whole week to prep. It really helped our kids dial in.”
Moving forward, Harrison said his team needs to keep that same focus if they want to get closer to the state tournament.
“We can’t lose that focus we had tonight,” he said. “We have another week to work with so that will help get the nerves out of the way.”
In shot totals, Gallia Academy led in field goals and free throws with tallies of 33-11 and 10-6, respectively.
Miami Trace led in 3-pointers at 10-1.
Leading the Blue Devils in scoring was sophomore Kenyon Franklin, who recorded one 3-pointer, seven field goals and four free throws for a total of 21 points.
Just behind him was junior Isaac Clary, who had 10 field goals for 20 points.
Rounding out the Gallia Academy scoring were Zane Loveday with 19 points, Carson Call with seven points, Wesley Saunders with six points, Brody Fellure with four points and Carson Wamsley with two points.
Leading the Panthers was Andrew Guthrie, who got four 3-pointers, six field goals and three free throws for a total of 27 points.
In rebounds, the Blue and White had nine offensive and 32 defensive for a total of 41 and were led by Clary with 15.
The Yellow and Black had six offensive boards and 12 defensive for a total of 18 and were led by Guthrie and Garrett Guess with five each.
The Blue Devils will be back on the court at 8:30 p.m. Saturday when they take on the Sheridan Generals at Southeastern High School.
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Colton Jeffries can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.