CENTENARY, Ohio — A sign of a good team is being able to close out wins on the road.
With six minutes left in Friday night’s Southeastern Ohio Athletic League tilt in Gallia County, the visiting Warren boys basketball team — which held a double-digit advantage headed into the fourth quarter — clung to a four-point lead. The three-time defending SEOAL champion Warriors didn’t falter however, outscoring host Gallia Academy 20-to-13 over the final six minutes to seal the 64-53 win.
The Blue Devils (4-4, 0-1 SEOAL) charged out to an 11-6 lead 5:30 into play, but the Warriors (8-2, 1-0) scored six unanswered points to end the first with a 12-11 lead.
After exchanging the lead twice in the opening two minutes of the second period, WHS caught fire and pushed its advantage to 25-18 with four minutes remaining in the opening half. The Blue Devils ended the second quarter with a 7-to-4 run, and trailed at half 29-25.
Warren controlled the glass in the third quarter, outrebounding the hosts 10-to-3, which helped the WHS lead grow to 44-33 headed into the finale.
The Warriors were held scoreless for the first two minutes of the fourth period, as the Blue Devils cut the deficit to 44-40. However, back-to-back trifectas by WHS junior Bryce Gandee expanded the Warrior lead back to double digits.
With 1:17 remaining in regulation Warren’s lead had grew to 13 points, but a two-pointer by Wes Jarrell and a triple by Miles Cornwell pulled the Blue Devils within striking distance at 58-50.
Warren made just 4-of-7 free throw attempts in the final minute, but with 17 seconds to play WHS senior Luke Drayer hauled in an offensive rebound and made the putback basket to put the final nail in the coffin at 64-53.
“We were with them, we had an opportunity, so give credit to our kids,” Gallia Academy head coach Gary Harrison said. “My hat’s off to Warren, Coach Mattox has built a good program and they’re a good team. They made key shots and we just didn’t. It was a game of swings, but I’m just happy our kids didn’t quit. That shows a little bit of resiliency in the kids, it shows where the program’s at and where we’re going.”
The Blue Devils were led by Jarrell with team-highs in points with 20, rebounds with seven, assists with six, steals with six and blocks with two. Cornwell added 16 points and three steals, while Devin Henry marked nine points. Kole Carter and Justin Peck both contributed four points and five rebounds for the hosts.
Gallia Academy shot 9-of-13 (69.2 percent) from the free throw line and 20-of-52 (38.5 percent) from the field, including 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc. As a team the Blue Devils marked 25 rebounds, 11 assists, 11 steals, two blocks and 12 turnovers.
Luke Drayer paced the guests with 22 points, followed by Chase Weihl with 16 and Bryce Gandee with 12. Bishop Ford scored six points, Cameron Bartmess and Seth Hall each added three, while Josh Huffman finished with two. Weihl had game-highs in rebounds with 12 and blocks with three, while Hall led the Warriors with five assists.
Warren made 19-of-32 (59.4 percent) free throw attempts and 21-of-45 (46.7 percent) field goal attempts, including 3-of-12 (25 percent) from beyond the arc. The Warriors combined for 38 rebounds, 14 assists, four steals, five blocks and 15 turnovers.
The Blue Devils will look for revenge on January 29, when they invade Vincent. GAHS, which visited South Point on Saturday, returns to the court on Tuesday, at Fairland.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.