CENTENARY, Ohio — The Gallia Academy girls basketball team had lost nine consecutive games and sat at 2-17 headed into to Monday night’s tilt against Ohio Valley Conference guest Fairland, which held a 15-2 record with a four-game winning streak. Not only that, but less than a month ago, on January 4, the Lady Dragons topped GAHS by a 79-41 count in Proctorville.
Apparently no one told the Blue Angels that meant they weren’t supposed to win on Monday, but the host Blue and White did just that, upsetting the Lady Dragons by a 56-51 count in Gallia County.
The teams sat tied at 11, eight minutes into play, but a late second quarter run gave the Lady Dragons (15-3, 9-3 OVC) 30-21 lead at halftime.
The Blue Angels (3-17, 3-10) — who have had their share of struggles in the third quarter this season — came out of the break strong, not allowing FHS to sink a field goal in the third period. The Lady Dragons were 6-of-8 from the free throw line in the third, but back-to-back Carly Shriver three-pointers gave the Blue Angels a 39-36 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
Gallia Academy scored nine of the first 12 points in the fourth quarter, expanding the lead to 48-39 with 3:30 left in regulation.
Fairland battled back to within three points, 51-54, with 18 seconds left on the clock and the Lady Dragons intercepted the ensuing in bounds pass and called timeout. However, FHS missed it’s three-point attempt and the ball was rebounded by GAHS junior Jalea Caldwell. With six seconds left, Caldwell sank both of her free throw tries to drive the final nails in the 56-51 victory.
“Tonight they decided to come out and play four quarters of basketball,” third-year GAHS head coach Joe Justice said. “(At halftime)I told them in the locker room, ‘you can go out and continue to do what you do and not finish games, or you can come out and prove people wrong’. We’re either going to get it or we’re not, and so far, it looks like we’re headed in the right direction.”
GAHS senior Jordan Walker led the Blue and White with 16 points, followed by Adrienne Jenkins and Carly Shriver with 11 each. Jalea Caldwell scored 10 points, Hanna Johnson added four, while Hunter Copley marked three in the win. KoKo Higa rounded out the Blue Angels offense with one point for the victors.
Gallia Academy made 12-of-18 free throw attempts, equaling 66.7 percent.
“It’s a big win,” Justice said. “Hopefully it gives them confidence that we play with anybody we go up against. We’ve not had that confidence in the past and hopefully, going into tournament time, this will be a big confidence boost for this program.”
Fairland was led by Taylor Perry with 16 points and Emily Chapman with 13, followed by Taylor Wilson and Alesha Simpson with six apiece. Allie Marshall scored four points, Tori Hall added three, Kelsie Warnock chipped in with two, while Jackie Wagner finished with one in the setback.
The Lady Dragons — who’s only other losses this season came against conference-leading Ironton — shot 11-of-15 from the charity stripe, equaling 73.3 percent.
GAHS returns to action on Thursday in the OVC finale at Portsmouth, where the Blue Angels will look to sweep the Lady Trojans. PHS fell by a 52-41 count on January 7, in Centenary.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.