CENTENARY, Ohio — Dominant defense and second chances on the offensive end, a devilish combination.
The Gallia Academy boys basketball team forced 21 turnovers and grabbed a dozen offensive rebounds, as the Blue Devils defeated Ohio Valley Conference guest South Point by a 54-43 tally on Tuesday in Gallia County.
South Point (4-4, 2-2 OVC) led for the first and only time in the game at 3-0, 15 seconds into play. Gallia Academy (6-3, 3-1) tied the game with a Justin McClelland three-pointer two minutes later, and then took the lead with a Caleb Henry two-pointer with 5:20 left in the first.
The Pointers battled back to tie the game at eight, but Henry hit a two-pointer to close the quarter, and GAHS never relinquished the lead.
The hosts began the second quarter with a 16-to-4 run, and led 26-12 with 3:55 left in the half. The Pointers cut their deficit as low as seven, at 30-23, with a minute left in the stanza, but two free throws by Logan Blouir and one by McClelland gave the Blue Devils a double-digit, 33-23, edge at the break.
The Gallia Academy lead was stretched to as many as 15 points, at 42-27, in the third quarter, but the Pointers closed the period with four straight markers and trimmed the margin to 42-31.
The Blue Devil advantage grew as high as 17, at 54-37, in the finale and the hosts cruised to the 54-43 victory.
Following the game, GAHS head coach Gary Harrison was pleased his entire team’s effort, and noted its importance against an opponent that carried momentum.
“We knew we were going to come out ready to play,” Harrison said. “We had a day to prep, we were ready for them. All the kids, even the kids that came off the bench, came out and played hard. Great job by the coaching staff, we were prepared, we knew what we were in for. South Point has a very good team, they’ve won two in a row, we just came out ready to play, and when we play like that we’ll be hard to beat.”
The Blue Devils connected on 20-of-54 (37 percent) field goal attempts, including 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) three-point tries, while the Pointers were 16-of-35 (45.7 percent) from the field, and 4-of-8 (50 percent) from deep. Both sides made seven free throws, GAHS in 13 attempts for 53.8 percent, and SPHS in 11 attempts for 63.6 percent.
The Blue Devils won the rebounding edge by a 26-to-24 tally, including 12-to-6 on the offensive end. GAHS committed just 11 turnovers, 10 fewer than the guests. The Blue and White recorded team totals of 15 assists, 10 steals and three rejections, while the Pointers combined for nine blocked shots, eight assists and four steals.
Harrison credited his squad’s defense in leading the to Gallia Academy’s third win in a row.
“Our defense was unbelievable tonight,” Harrison said. “The intensity was there, we had great mid-line defense, and for the first time in a game, I think we took 5-or-6 charges. That’s one thing I’ve tried to stress all year, and tonight it finally came to fruition. Our kids played well, I knew they were going to come out and play hard.”
Blouir and Cory Call both made a pair of three-pointers and led the victors with 14 and 11 points respectively, with Call grabbing a team-best eight rebounds. Henry and Blaine Carter had nine markers apiece in the win, with Henry dishing out a team-best four assists.
McClelland finished with six points, including three from long range, while Ben Cox added five points. Henry, McClelland and Blouir led the GAHS defense with three steals apiece, while Carter rejected two shots.
South Point’s Chance Gunther led all-scorers with 22 points, including nine from beyond the arc. Austin Webb had 10 points and a team-best three assists in the setback, while Marcus Malone — who led the Pointer defense with four blocked shots and one steal — marked four points and a game-high 10 boards.
Brody Blackwell scored three points for the Blue and Gold, while Nakyan Turner and Roger Staggs finished with two points apiece.
GAHS will look for the season sweep of the Pointers when these teams meet in South Point on Feb. 1. The Blue Devils return to action at home on Friday against Fairland.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.