RACINE, Ohio — Defensive dominance gives the Tornadoes a rivalry sweep.
The Southern boys basketball team — which won 49-44 on Jan. 14 at Eastern — met with the Eagles again on Friday in Meigs County, with the host Tornadoes taking a 41-33 decision for their third straight win.
Eastern (10-12, 8-8 TVC Hocking) — which concludes the regular season on a two-game skid — scored the first eight points of the game, holding Southern (10-10, 9-6) scoreless for the opening three minutes. The Tornadoes went on an 11-to-2 run over the remainder of the period, however, taking the lead on an Arrow Drummer two-pointer and heading into the second with an 11-10 edge.
The Eagles regained the lead with a Derrick Metheney two-pointer 1:40 into the second quarter, but were held scoreless for the next six minutes. The Purple and Gold came up empty on six field goal attempts in the second period, but were back in front after hitting 5-of-6 free throws. EHS senior Colton Reynolds made a three-pointer with 14 seconds left in the half, trimming the Tornado lead to 16-15 at the break.
The Eagles battled back to take their final lead of the night, at 25-24, on a Matthew Blanchard three-pointer 6:07 into the second half. A free throw from SHS junior Chase Bailey tied the game at 25 before the end of the third quarter, and the hosts was back in front after a Cole Steele three-pointer to start the finale.
A foul shot from Garrett Barringer and a two-pointer by William Oldaker tied game at 28 with 5:20 to play, but back-to-back buckets by Landen Hill gave the hosts the lead for good.
EHS got back to within two points on a field goal from Reynolds with 2:40 remaining, but SHS senior Trey McNickle drained a three-pointer 23 seconds later to make the margin 35-30.
A Mason Dishong two-pointer got the Eagles back to within one possession with 1:38 to play, but Southern closed the 41-33 victory with a 6-to-1 run on free throws.
For the game, SHS made 10-of-39 (25.6 percent) field goal attempts, including 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) three-point tries, while Eastern was 13-of-46 (28.3 percent) from the field, including 3-of-10 (30 percent) from deep. The Tornadoes made 17-of-25 (68 percent) foul shots in the win, while the Eagles were 4-for-10 (40 percent) at the charity stripe.
Both teams tallied 32 rebounds, with the hosts claiming an 8-to-7 edge in offensive boards. Southern committed 15 turnovers, one more than EHS. The Tornadoes combined for 10 steals, six assists and three blocked shots, while the Green and White collected eight assists, seven steals and five rejections.
Southern was led by Hill and Steele with 10 points apiece. Drummer posted eight points and seven rebounds in the win, while McNickle ended with seven points, as well as team-highs of 13 rebounds and three assists. Bailey scored five for the hosts, while Ryan Laudermilt marked one point.
Leading the Tornado defense, Drummer had four steals and a block, while McNickle earned two steals and two blocks.
Reynolds led Eastern with 11 points, followed by Barringer with nine. Ryan Dill scored four points in the setback, Blanchard added three, while Dishong, Metheney and Oldaker claimed two apiece, with Metheney earning a team-best three assists and Oldaker pulling in a team-high 13 rebounds.
The Eagle defense was led by Reynolds with three steals, and Dill with two steals and two rejections.
The Tornadoes put their three-game winning streak on the line at home on Monday against Ravenswood. Both teams have sectional semifinal contests on Wednesday at Wellston High School, with Southern vs. Waterford at 6:15 and Eastern vs. Portsmouth Notre Dame at 8 p.m.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.