COAL GROVE, Ohio — The Blue Devils would like a second chance at this first impression.
Gallia Academy led 44-38 headed into the finale of its first-ever Ohio Valley Conference boys basketball contest, but a 22-9 fourth quarter surge allowed host Coal Grove to spoil things Tuesday night during a 60-53 decision in Lawrence County.
The visiting Blue Devils (0-1, 0-1 OVC) received a game-high 24 points from senior Wes Jarrell, with 16 of those coming during an impressive first half for the Blue and White. GAHS led 14-11 after eight minutes of play, then used a 20-14 second quarter run to secure a 34-25 advantage at the break.
The Hornets (1-0, 1-0), however, started finding their rhythm in the early moments of the second half as a 13-10 third quarter surge allowed CGHS to close to within two possessions headed into the fourth stanza.
The Red and Black made a 7-1 run out of the fourth quarter gate to knot things up at 45-all with 6:32 left in regulation, then Chase McKnight broke a 47-all tie with two free throws at the 5-minute mark — giving the hosts a permanent cushion at 49-47.
Gallia Academy was ultimately never closer than 56-53 with 12 seconds left over the final four minutes of regulation.
Devin Henry followed Jarrell with 13 points, while Miles Cornwell and Kole Carter each contributed six points. Evan Wiseman also had four points for GAHS, which went 9-of-15 at the free throw line for 60 percent.
Daniel Rutherford paced CGHS with 19 points, followed by Cole Gannon with 14 points and McKnight with 13 points. Sam Angelo also had 10 points for the victors, while Jaylen McKnezie added three markers.
Jeb Jones rounded out the Hornet tally with one point. The hosts were 19-of-29 at the free throw line for 66 percent, including a 13-of-20 effort at the stripe in the fourth quarter.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.