ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Top seed for a reason.
The number one seed Pike Eastern boys basketball team topped ninth seed South Gallia 77-44 in Wednesday night’s sectional final at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium on the campus of Meigs High School.
South Gallia (7-17) scored the opening bucket of the game with, but the Eagles (18-3) scored the next nine points to take to seven point lead at the 4:30 mark of the first. The Rebels got back on track with back-to-back buckets near the midway point of the quarter. Eastern closed the opener with a 14-to-2, expanding its lead to 23-8.
SGHS began the second period with a 5-0 run, but the Eagles answered with a 13-to-5 spurt. South Gallia scored six straight points sparked by a technical foul called on Eastern’s Brandon Murphy. The Eagles stretched their lead back out with a 1:30 10-0 run, but SGHS scored four unanswered points to close the half. EHS held a 46-28 advantage at the break. South Gallia was out rebounded 12-to-4 in the first period but the Rebels flipped the script in the second, out rebounding the Eagles 10-to-5.
South Gallia out scored EHS 5-to-4 in the opening two minutes of the second half but Eastern rallied with an 18-to-4 run to end the period with a 68-37 advantage.The Rebels shot just 4-of-19 in the third quarter, while Eastern shot 8-of-13.
The Eagles slowed the pace and out scored South Gallia 9-to-7 over the final eight minutes of regulation, securing the 77-44 victory.
“Eastern is going to be a tough out for anybody, I can’t believe how well they shoot the ball,” said first year South Gallia coach Larry Howell. “We knew we had to play almost a perfect game to beat them. Seeing them on tape doesn’t tell the truth on how good they are and they will be a tough out for anybody.”
The Rebels were led by Brayden Greer with nine points, followed by Landon Hutchinson, Michael Wheeler and Ethan Swain with eight points apiece. Kody Lambert marked five points, Gus Slone added four, while Jared Calhoun rounded out the SGHS total with two points.
South Gallia shot 17-of-57 (29.8 percent) from the field, including 0-of-15 from beyond the arc. The Rebels were 10-of-16 from the charity stripe for 62.5 percent. The Red and Gold had 28 rebounds and one block in the game, while committing 15 turnovers and 12 personal fouls. Swain received a technical foul at the 2:37 mark of the third period.
South Gallia was held under their season average of 49.2 points per game, while Eastern marked more than their average of 66.5 points per game.
The Orange and Brown were led by Chad Lands with 24 points and Tavares Pickett with 17. Josh Thacker had 10 points, Justin Fultz added eight, Alex Phipps marked seven, while Colton Lightte and Tre Lykins both had four. Trace Creech contributed two points, while Matt Dyke rounded out the EHS scoring with one point.
The Eagles shot 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) from the line and 28-of-63 (44.4 percent) from the field, including 9-of-20 (45 percent) from beyond the arc. EHS recorded 43 rebounds and six blocks, while committing 13 turnovers and 11 personal fouls. Murphy had the team’s lone technical at the 3:11 mark of the second period.
The Eagles also ended South Gallia run last season, but it was in the district final at the Convo. Eastern will face fifth seeded Fairfield at the Convo on March 5th at 6:15 p.m.
This marks the final game for SGHS seniors Tyler Reynolds, C.J. Johnston, Alex Stapleton, Tyler Pope and Kody Lambert.
“For my first year I couldn’t have asked for a better group of seniors,” Howell said. “Winning a basketball game isn’t as important as what they will do with the rest of their lives, and with their work ethic and attitude they’re going to be successful.”