MERCERVILLE, Ohio — The Lady Rebel defense tried its best, but just couldn’t make up for an offensive drought.
The South Gallia girls basketball team was held without a field goal for 15:56 in the middle of Tuesday night’s season opener in Gallia County, as the Lady Rebels fell to non-conference guest Symmes Valley by a 56-51 count, despite the Lady Vikings turning the ball over a dozen times in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Rebels (0-1) took their first lead of the night at 5-4, as senior Erin Evans made a three-pointer with 4:21 left in the opening quarter. SGHS stretched its advantage to as many as five points, but Symmes Valley fought back to tie the game at 10, with 22 seconds left in the opening stanza. South Gallia ended the period with an Alyssa Cremeens trifecta, giving the Lady Rebels a 13-10 lead.
The hosts began the second quarter with a 7-4 run, and enjoyed their largest lead of the night at 20-14, with 5:38 remaining in the half. However, the Red and Gold didn’t make another field goal until the fourth quarter.
Symmes Valley rattled off seven straight points and regained the lead at 21-20, with 3:28 left in the half. The Lady Rebels tied the game at 21, but SVHS ended the half with a 3-1 run and a 24-22 lead.
The Lady Vikings scored the first eight points of the second half, and continued to build their lead, ultimately earning their largest lead of the night at 44-28, with 7:36 left in regulation.
After a 6-of-8 performance from the charity stripe in the third quarter, SGHS made two more free throws before a two-pointer by Evans ended the field goal drought with 5:42 to play.
The hosts did their best to make up for lost time, hitting a quartet of three-pointers in the fourth and eventually cutting the SVHS lead to one possession, 54-51, with eight seconds remaining.
Symmes Valley missed a pair of free throws with seven seconds left, but the Lady Rebels’ potential game-tying trifecta came up short and the ball went out of bounds. The guests cashed in on their second chance, as Rachel Hayes made a pair of free throws to seal the 56-51 win.
“I think our senior leadership brought us back,” fifth-year head coach Corey Small said. “Last year if we were down six-or-eight going into half, we’d end up losing by 28-or-30, because we didn’t have that leadership. This year we have totally different team mentally. The seniors have taken control, they’ve brought along the sophomores and freshmen and I’m proud of them.”
For the game, Symmes Valley earned a 44-to-28 rebounding advantage, with a 17-to-9 edge on the offensive glass. As a team, South Gallia recorded 10 assists and 14 steals, while committing 21 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Lady Vikings combined for 15 assists, 10 blocked shots, six steals and 26 turnovers.
“I’m really proud of our defense,” said Small. “I know it’s early, our offense is going to struggle, we’re going to be rusty, but defensively I’m happy with where we are. I think good things are in our future and if we can just not go 15 minutes without a bucket, we’re going to be pretty tough.”
For the game, SGHS went 22-of-32 (68.8 percent) from the free throw line, and 11-of-48 (22.9 percent) from the field, including 7-of-20 (35 percent) from beyond the arc. Symmes Valley shot just 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) from the line, but was 22-for-59 (39.3 percent) from the field, including 2-of-10 (20 percent) from deep.
South Gallia was led by Cremeens with 13 points, followed by Evans and Faith Poling with 10 points apiece. Amaya Howell poured in nine points, Olivia Hornsby chipped in with six, while Aaliyah Howell rounded out the team total with three.
Poling led the hosts on the glass with eight rebounds, followed by Amaya Howell with five. Evans and Amaya Howell both recorded three assists in the setback, while Hornsby led the defense with four steals.
Jensyn Shepherd led the victors with a double-double effort of 33 points and 21 rebounds, to go with a game-best six rejections. Hayes and Kaitlyn Crabtree both scored 10 points, and came up with eight assists and 11 rebounds respectively. Kaylee Cade had three points for SVHS, while Taylor Sells marked a team-best three steals.
The Lady Rebels will have a chance to avenge this setback on Jan. 31 at Symmes Valley.
SGHS begins Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division play on Monday at Eastern.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.