CENTENARY, Ohio — When things appeared at their worst, the Blue Angels found their best.
The Gallia Academy girls basketball team made a 19-4 fourth quarter surge while battling a second half flu bug Thursday night en route to a 54-33 victory over visiting Portsmouth in an Ohio Valley Conference contest on Senior Night in Gallia County.
The Blue Angels (9-14, 4-10 OVC) traded leads with the Lady Trojans (4-17, 2-12) for the opening 13 minutes of play, but the hosts ultimately led the final 19:03 of regulation and managed a proper send-off for seniors Jenelle Stevens, Carly Shriver, Adrienne Jenkins and Kimberly Edelmann in their home finales.
The victory, however, was anything but a given as GAHS had two starters suffering from stomach flu problems throughout the course of the night. With Shriver and starting point guard Alex Barnes both being switched in and out while fighting their illnesses, Portsmouth was able to stay within two possessions through most of three quarters of play.
With Gallia Academy clinging to a 35-29 lead headed into the finale, the Blue and White had started showing signs of fatigue with the dual challenge of fighting sickness and PHS. But, with adversity square in their face with eight minutes left — the Blue Angels rose to the occasion.
The hosts made a small 7-4 run to extend the lead out to 42-33 with 3:56 left, then scored the final dozen points of regulation to wrap up the 21-point triumph. GAHS was also 9-of-11 at the free throw line down the stretch.
The Blue Angels claimed a season sweep of the Red and Blue after posting a 57-45 win in Portsmouth back on January 12.
GAHS coach Joe Justice was pleased that his troops were able to finish out the home schedule and the regular season on a solid note. Given everything that went on during the contest, Justice felt that his kids showed a lot of character in the face adversity — which is a good sign moving forward.
“It’s kind of funny because we put on our pregame board that it’s not how you start the game, it’s how you finish it. We came out and started slow, so we really challenged the girls at halftime to finish strong … and they did,” Justice said. “We made some big free throws down the stretch and we did a really good job of finishing this one out.
“It’s definitely a good win for our team and a good night for our seniors. We can take some momentum from this into tournament play.”
Portsmouth led 11-10 after eight minutes of play, but a Hunter Copley trifecta at the 3:03 mark of the second capped a small 9-7 run that led to a permanent Gallia Academy cushion at 19-18. The hosts followed with a 7-2 run the rest of the way for a 26-20 edge at the intermission.
Jenkins nailed a trifecta 30 seconds into the second half to give the Blue Angels a three-possession lead, but the guests answered witha 9-6 run to again close to within two possessions headed into the finale. PHS was ultimately never closer the rest of the way.
The Blue Angels netted 18-of-60 field goal attempts for 30 percent, including a 3-of-15 effort from behind the arc for 20 percent. The hosts were also 15-of-23 at the free throw line for 65 percent.
Shriver led GAHS with a game-high 18 points and a team-best five steals, followed by Jenkins with 11 points and Barnes with 10 markers. Copley also chipped in eight points for the victors.
Edelmann was next with three points, while Stevens and Abby Cremeans rounded things out with two points apiece. Barnes also produced team-highs of six rebounds and three assists.
Portsmouth netted three of its 15 total field goals from behind the arc and also went 3-of-8 at the free throw line for 38 percent.
Hannah Hughes paced PHS with nine points, followed by Semajah Parker with six points and Shai Howard with five markers. Jarden Pickett and Mya Williams also had four points each.
Kylisha Kearns and Destiney McKenzie completed the Lady Trojan tally with respective efforts of three and two points.
Gallia Academy opens Division II sectional tournament play on Monday when it travels to Logan High School for a 7 p.m. contest against Athens.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.