MASON, W.Va. — One program was getting its first league win of the year.
The only question was which one?
The South Gallia girls basketball team made a 23-3 charge over the final 13:29 of the first half and never looked back Thursday night during a 45-29 victory over host Wahama in a Tri-Valley Conference girls basketball contest at Gary Clark Court in Mason County.
The Lady Rebels (2-5, 1-5 TVC Hocking) trailed 5-0 just two and a half minutes into regulation, but the guests reeled off 11 straight points over the next 2:33 en route to securing an 11-5 edge with 2:57 left in the first quarter.
The Lady Falcons (1-7, 0-6) answered 14 seconds later as Nena Hunt converted a layup for an 11-7 contest, but SGHS responded with five consecutive points to close the opening period ahead 16-7.
Lauren Bissell converted a free throw at the 6:26 mark of the second, which allowed WHS to close back to within 18-8. The Red and White were never closer the rest of the first half.
The Lady Rebels — who forced 11 turnovers before the intermission — closed the half with five unanswered points to secure a 23-8 edge at the break.
The Lady Falcons ended an 11:10 field goal drought with a Hannah Rose basket 28 seconds into the third quarter, sparking an 11-4 run that allowed the hosts to close back to within 27-19 headed into the finale.
Wahama, however, was never closer the rest of the way as SGHS started the fourth with a 9-0 run — which included seven points from Aaliyah Howell — as the guests secured a 36-19 edge with 5:07 left.
Rose capped a small 5-2 spurt that pulled WHS back to within four possessions (38-26) with 3:31 to go, but the Lady Rebels ended regulation with a 7-3 run to wrap up the 16-point outcome.
South Gallia was outrebounded by a 30-26 overall margin, but the guests claimed a 14-10 edge on the offensive glass and also forced 24 turnovers while committing only a dozen miscues.
After dropping five consecutive decisions — all league contests — SGHS coach Corey Small noted that it wasn’t a perfect night, but it was enough of a collective effort to head into the holidays feeling a little jolly.
“With a young group like this, a win always help to give them some confidence. There’s not much varsity experience on this squad, but they stepped up when they needed to and they played well together. It’s a good team win,” Small said. “I started getting a little concerned when Wahama cut it down to eight points there late, but it was good to see the girls step up when the first sign of adversity hit. I’m proud of the girls for being able to pull this one out.”
South Gallia hit three trifectas in the opening period, but the Lady Falcons did a solid job of taking that element away over the next two quarters — which coincided with trimming the deficit down to three possessions late in the third stanza.
Wahama, however, had a few perimeter lapses down the stretch, and WHS coach John Arnott thought those small mistakes ended up being really big in the finale.
“We played a really good third quarter by holding them to four points, but we lost track of their outside shooters down the stretch and it eventually caught up with us,” Arnott said. “I saw some positives tonight and I can see that we are continuing to get better. The kids gave a good effort and that is all I can ask of them, but we also need to start focusing on putting four quarters together. We’ll just keep working to get better.”
South Gallia connected on 17-of-52 field goal attempts for 33 percent, including a 5-of-16 effort from behind the arc for 31 percent. The guests were also 6-of-16 at the free throw line for 38 percent.
Aaliyah Howell scored eight of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter to pace SGHS, followed by Amaya Howell with 10 points and Erin Evans with seven markers.
Christine Griffith and Olivia Hornsby were next with four points apiece, while Riley Stapleton and Alyssa Cremeans rounded out the winning tally with respective efforts of three and two markers.
Griffith also hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds for the victors, while Amaya Howell and Hornsby respectively chipped in five and four caroms.
The Lady Falcons netted 11-of-35 field goal attempts for 31 percent, including a 2-of-6 effort from three-point range for 33 percent. The hosts were also 5-of-14 at the charity stripe for 36 percent.
Rose paced WHS with 14 points, all of which came in the second half. Hunt was next with six points, while Lauren Bissell and Maddy VanMatre each chipped in four markers. Lizzy Mullins completed the scoring with one point.
VanMatre led Wahama with nine rebounds and Mullins hauled in seven boards. Rose also grabbed five caroms in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.