THE PLAINS, Ohio — Thorough, from start to finish.
The Gallia Academy boys basketball team stormed out to a 15-7 first quarter lead and never looked back Friday night en route to a 55-32 non-conference victory over host Athens in the season opener for both programs at McAfee Gymnasium in Athens County.
The visiting Blue Devils (1-0) had seven different players reach the scoring column, with Division I prospect Zach Loveday leading the charge with a game-high 24 points.
Loveday — a 7-foot sophomore who already had offers from Ohio State and Purdue — tallied eight points in the opening frame and had 10 points by halftime, all while helping the Blue and White establish a 29-15 advantage at the break.
The Bulldogs (0-1) managed to keep things a bit more competitive in the third canto, but Loveday netted nine points as part of a small 12-11 spurt that gave GAHS a 41-26 edge headed into the finale. The guests closed regulation with a 14-6 surge to wrap up the 23-point opening night triumph.
The Blue Devils netted 23 total field goals — including four trifectas — while also making 5-of-9 free throw attempts for 56 percent.
Loveday made 10 field goals — including a pair of three-pointers — and was also 2-of-2 at the free throw line in guiding the Blue Devils, while Cory Call added 12 points and Logan Blouir chipped in another eight markers.
Evan Wiseman was next with six points, followed by Cole Davis and Justin McClelland with four markers apiece. Kaden Thomas completed the winning tally with three points.
The Green and Gold mustered only 11 total field goals — including two trifectas — and also went 8-of-17 at the free throw line for 47 percent.
Dalton Cozart led AHS with 11 points, followed by Eli Webb and Justin Hynes with eight points apiece. Isaiah Butcher was next with six markers and Logan Maxfield added four points, while Elijah Williams chipped in three points.
Micah Saltzman and Treyce Albin completed the Bulldog tally with two points apiece.
Gallia Academy opens its home season on Tuesday when it welcomes Meigs in a non-conference contest.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.