STEWART, Ohio — In first place for a reason.
The Federal Hocking boys basketball made sure to keep its spot atop the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division standings headed into the new year, as the Lancers claimed a 81-70 victory over visiting Southern on Friday night at McInturf Gymnasium.
The Tornadoes (3-5, 2-2 TVC Hocking) were down 14-13 after one quarter of play, and the Lancers (6-1, 5-0) were up 28-25 at halftime after a 14-to-12 second period.
The hosts claimed 20 of the first 25 points in the second half for a 48-30 lead. Southern outscored FHHS 8-to-7 over the remainder of the period and trailed 55-38 headed into the finale.
SHS made it as close as seven, at 75-68, in the fourth, but the the Maroon and Gold sealed the 81-70 victory with a 6-to-2 spurt.
The Tornadoes won the rebounding battle by a 40-to-35 clip, but committed 24 turnovers, eight more than the Lancers. The Purple and Gold collected 15 assists, nine steals and two blocked shots, while the hosts combined for 20 assists, 16 steals and five rejections.
Southern made 25-of-60 (41.7 percent) field goal attempts, including 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) three-point tries, while Federal Hocking was 30-of-63 (47.6 percent) from the field, including 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) from deep. Both teams sank 11 free throws, SHS in 17 tries for 64.7 percent, and FHHS in 16 shots for 68.8 percent.
Southern was led by Cole Steele with 31 points, 21 of which came from beyond the arc. Arrow Drummer came up with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds for the guests, while Landen Hill posted seven points and 11 boards.
Trey McNickle, Coltin Parker and Cade Anderson scored three points each for Southern, with McNickle earning a team-high five assists. Leading the Tornado defense, Hill had three steals, and Drummer blocked two shots.
Brad Russell led the Lancers with a double-double of 23 points and 14 boards. Nathaniel Massie hit a team-best four three-pointers on his way to 19 points, to go with six assists and a game-high five steals. Hunter Smith finished with 18 points, half of which came from deep, while Elijah Lucas ended with nine points and a game-best seven assists.
Wes Carpenter scored five points in the win, Quinton Basim added four, Collin Jarvis chipped in with two, and Adam Douglas rounded out the team total with one.
The Tornadoes will look to return the favor when these teams meet in Racine on Jan. 31.
Next, Southern will host Glenwood on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.