GALLIPOLIS, Ohio —The Blue Devils decided to reverse course, did the job from the field through the first three quarters, then finally won the game on the line.
All the while, Gallia Academy escaped an upset bid by the visiting Rock Hill Redmen on Thursday night, as the Blue Devils hung on for a 57-54 Ohio Valley Conference boys basketball victory at Gallia Academy Middle School.
The contest was a makeup matchup from Saturday night, originally postponed due to inclement weather.
With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 5-11 — and 4-7 in their initial season in the OVC.
The loss left Rock Hill winless at 0-15 and 0-8.
However, the Blue Devils did have to rally in the first half — and fended off the hard-charging Redmen at the end.
They did so by making nine of 17 fourth-quarter free throws, while their only other points in the period were a Miles Cornwell three-pointer with seven minutes remaining.
While Gallia Academy led for the final eight minutes and 53 seconds, they needed Nathan Turvey’s three-point attempt by Rock Hill to rim out with under 10 seconds to play.
Cornwell couldn’t convert the double-bonus free-throw attempts to ice it, though, which set up the Redmen with one final shot with 2.5 seconds left.
Fortunately for GAHS, Mason Dalby’s desperation three-quarters court heave at the buzzer was offline.
It was a win the Blue Devils did need, considering Thursday night’s game was the second of what will be four in five days — and the first of three consecutive.
Gallia Academy lost at Ironton on Tuesday night, then traveled to Warren on Friday night and hosted Jackson on Saturday night in Southeastern Ohio Athletic League tilts.
“Tonight was a great team win,” said GAHS coach Gary Harrison. “Rock Hill plays hard. They’ve had a couple of bad losses their last two games (against Chesapeake and Fairland), but I knew they would play hard tonight. They hit four threes right in a row to get up 10 (20-10), but we started executing better and we outscored them 19-7 in the second quarter and got a run going there in the third quarter. We took a couple of bad shots toward the end of the fourth quarter, and missed some free throws, but we made enough to hold the lead and then played good defense at the end.”
On the second-to-last Redmen possession, with Gallia Academy leading 57-54, Turvey fired from the left wing with a Blue Devil directly contesting the shot.
The shot missed, and Cornwell was there for the rebound with 3.1 seconds left.
In the second half, Rock Hill had closed the gap to a 54-53 deficit following a Turvey triple with 47 seconds to play.
With the Blue Devils in the double bonus, and 40 seconds showing, Devin Henry hit the first of two free throws, before Rock Hill’s Tyler Damron split a pair of foul shots for another one-point score (55-54).
Gallia Academy’s Wes Jarrell then drained both freebies with 18.2 tics to make it 57-54, setting up the final 14 seconds.
“Our kids are still playing hard. We’ve had a couple of bad breaks this year, but we haven’t quit,” said Harrison. “I think we’re getting better.”
Cornwell, Jarrell and Kole Carter combined for 43 of the Blue Devils’ 57 points, with Cornwell canning a team-high 16, including four threes.
He had 11 points, including three trifectas, in the opening half.
Cornwell also sank 2-of-4 fourth-quarter free throws, while Jarrell finished with five field goals and 4-of-5 foul shots for 14 points.
Carter collected six total field goals for 13 points, while Henry had nine on two field goals and 4-of-8 fourth-quarter free throws.
The Blue Devils dropped in seven three-pointers, including one apiece by Carter, Henry and Russell Mathew, and made 10-of-19 from the stripe.
Evan Wiseman, with a second-stanza field goal, rounded out the Blue and White.
Rock Hill had four players combine for its 54, paced by Damron with 20 points on seven total field goals and 3-of-6 free throws.
Turvey — on five treys — and Dalby, on seven field goals and a free throw — each finished with 15.
Alex Nance netted a first-quarter bucket.
The final of four ties was at 41-41 with 1:18 left in the third, but Carter scored twice to give the Blue Devils the lead for good.
Gallia Academy led 45-43 after three quarters, then maintained anywhere from a three to six-point cushion until the final 47 seconds.
With the Blue Devils leading 29-27 at halftime, they opened the third frame with an 8-0 run, taking their largest lead of the game at the 6:10 mark.
However, a 14-4 Redmen run over the next 4:48 tied the contest up for the final time.
Gallia Academy opened the game with a 7-2 lead only two-and-a-half minutes in, but an 18-3 spurt over the final 5:30 of the first period gave Rock Hill its largest advantage.
After a Damron putback made it 7-4, the Redmen hit four consecutive three-balls — two by Turvey and two by Damron.
Cornwell’s corner three cut the deficit to 16-10, but Dalby and Damron scored nearly 10 seconds apart at the one-and-a-half minute mark.
The Blue Devils then rallied behind threes from Mathew and Cornwell, and outscored the Redmen 11-7 over the final five-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter to lead 29-27.
All four lead changes were in the first half, as Gallia Academy never trailed for the final 17:50.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106