LONDONDERRY, Ohio — By night’s end, the Blue Devils were probably looking for a good pair of ear plugs to cancel out those annoying whistle noises.
Foul trouble hampered the Gallia Academy boys basketball team for most of regulation, and fifth seeded Waverly made a pivotal 24-14 run over a 10-minute span in the middle frames Tuesday night en route to a 59-49 victory in a Division II sectional semifinal contest at Southeastern High School in Ross County.
The 12th seeded Blue Devils (10-13) battled through six ties and four lead changes through the opening 13 minutes of play, which left the score knotted up at 21-all with 2:59 left in the first half.
Will Futhey hit the second of two free throws with 2:16 remaining, allowing the Tigers (18-5) to secure a permanent lead at 22-21.
That freebie also sparked 6-2 run that led to a 27-23 advantage at the break, then the hosts followed with a 7-of-13 shooting performance in the third stanza that resulted in an 18-12 run and a 45-35 cushion entering the finale.
The Blue and White — who were whistled for 11-of-16 first half fouls and 24-of-36 personals overall — suffered another key blow just 16 seconds into the fourth when Isaac Clary picked up his fifth and final foul of the night.
GAHS, however, received back-to-back baskets from Ben Cox and Logan Blouir, allowing the guests to close back to within 45-40 with 6:07 left.
Waverly retaliated with an 11-3 surge over the next four-plus minutes and ended the final six minutes of regulation on a 14-9 run to complete the 10-point outcome.
Gallia Academy led by two points on three separate occasions in the opening five minutes of play, but a 2-handed flush by Zeke Brown capped 6-0 spurt that led to a 10-6 edge at the 2:47 mark. The guests ended the opening stanza with a 7-4 run to close to within 14-13 through eight minutes.
Blouir capped an 8-6 run with a trifecta at the 3:06 mark of the second, allowing the Blue Devils to secure their final lead of the game at 21-20.
Both Clary and Damon Cremeens — the main GAHS interior defenders — missed most of the remainder of the first half due to foul implications, and Cremeens picked up his fourth foul at the 6:46 mark of the third.
Clary picked up two third quarter fouls and was on the bench with over two minutes left in the canto.
Waverly’s largest lead of the night came at 41-27 on a Brown basket with 3:22 remaining in the third period.
The Tigers outrebounded the guests by a 34-19 overall margin, including a 14-7 edge on the offensive glass. The Blue Devils also committed 12 of the 20 turnovers in the contest.
Gallia Academy made 18-of-44 field goal attempts for 41 percent, including a 5-of-18 effort from behind the arc for 28 percent. GAHS also netted 8-of-14 free throw attempts for 57 percent.
Blouir led the Blue and White with a game-high 18 points, followed by Cooper Davis with 11 points and Reece Thomas with eight markers. Clary was next with seven points, while Cox and Justin Wilcoxon respectively completed things with four points and one point.
Cremeens hauled in a team-best four rebounds, while Clary, Wilcoxon, Davis, Thomas and Blouir all grabbed three rebounds apiece in the setback.
Waverly made 19-of-45 field goal attempts for 42 percent, including misses on all three of its 3-point attempts. The hosts — who advance to face Unioto in the sectional final — were also 21-of-28 at the charity stripe for 75 percent.
Trey Robertson went 12-of-15 at the line and paced WHS with 16 points, followed by Futhey and Brown with 13 markers apiece. Tanner Smallwood was next with eight points, while Mark Smalley and Michael Goodman rounded out the winning tally with seven and two points.
Brown grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, with Smallwood and Futhey each hauling down eight caroms.
It was the final basketball game for Damon Cremeens, Justin Wilcoxon, Ben Cox, Logan Blouir, Reece Thomas, Colton Caldwell and Devin Lee in the Blue and White.
GAHS finished the year with a 5-9 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.