CENTENARY, Ohio — No drama this time around.
After escaping South Point with a narrow 59-57 victory on Jan. 9, the Gallia Academy boys basketball team completed the season sweep of the Pointers on Friday night in Gallia County, as the Blue Devils defeated their Ohio Valley Conference guest by a 68-49 tally.
GAHS (15-2, 9-2 OVC) never trailed in the game and fought through just one tie, at 2-2. The Blue Devils led 19-to-9 after eight minutes of play, with sophomore center Zach Loveday scoring 17 of his game-best 37 points in the opening quarter.
The Blue Devils pushed their lead as high as 13 in the second quarter, but South Point (7-10, 3-4) closed the half with a 5-to-2 run, making the GAHS lead 30-20 at the break.
The Pointers pulled within nine points by the midway point of the third quarter, but GAHS went on a 10-to-5 run to end the period with a 46-32 advantage.
The hosts stretched their lead to a game-high 23 points, at 66-43, with 1:40 to play and cruised to the 68-49 victory.
“We were 17-for-60 from the floor against Coal Grove, and we were 2-for-24 from the three-point line, so our focus for the last two days of practice has been to get the ball inside,” GAHS head coach Gary Harrison said. “We found out that Rock Hill’s two post players had 28 and 20 against South Point, so we knew that Zach could have a big game tonight.”
In the win, GAHS shot 27-of-48 (56.3 percent) from the field, including 3-of-8 (37.5 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, South Point was 18-of-47 (38.3 percent) from the field, including 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
At the foul line, the Blue Devils shot 11-of-15 (73.3 percent) and the Pointers shot 11-of-13 (84.6 percent).
Gallia Academy claimed a 35-to-13 edge in rebounds, including 11-to-4 on the offensive end. The hosts also held a 20-to-7 advantage in assists, while the Pointers picked up a 7-to-6 steals advantage. Both teams blocked three shots in the contest.
GAHS committed 14 turnovers in the win, while SPHS gave the ball away 10 times.
En route to his career-high 37 points, Loveday made 14 two-pointers, one trifecta and a 6-of-9 free throws. Loveday was responsible for 20 of his team’s first 22 points and also came up with a game-best 16 rebounds.
“The last time we played them, they couldn’t stop him,” Coach Harrison said of Loveday. “We knew he had gotten better since a month ago, they just had no answer. That’s our game, we want to throw the ball inside. If they can’t stop him, teams are going to be in for a long night. Our guards did a great job of feeding him and spacing, so it’s a credit to everybody.”
Fellow GAHS sophomore Logan Blouir scored nine points for the victors, Justin McClelland added five points, while Caleb Henry and Cory Call each had four. Bailey Walker contributed three points to the winning cause, while Cole Davis, Evan Wiseman and Blaine Carter chipped in with two points apiece.
Wiseman had team-highs of five assists and two steals for the hosts, while Loveday, Call and Blouir each blocked a shot.
Tayshawn Fox led the guests with 23 points, followed by Chance Gunther with nine and Jared Whitt with seven. Austin Webb had six points and a team-best seven rebounds for SPHS, while Derek McCarty and Marcus Malone scored two points apiece.
Webb and Gunther each had two assists in the setback. Gunther also led the South Point defense with three steals, while Fox blocked two shots.
The Blue Devils are back on their home court on Tuesday when they welcome league-leading Fairland.
“We’ve been waiting,” Coach Harrison said about Fairland. “They’re good, they humbled us last time. We’re going to be up to the challenge, I think this place will probably be sold out. It’s going to let us know where we’re at. I’m sure Fairland knows where they’re at, we’re going to find out where we’re at. We could eventually see these guys down the road in the tournament. We’ll use these next two days to prepare and Tuesday night will be fun.”
The Dragons were responsible for Gallia Academy’s first loss of the season, as they claimed a 97-50 decision in Lawrence County on Dec. 19.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100