THE PLAINS, Ohio — Too little … and then too late.
The Gallia Academy boys basketball team came within a second of forcing overtime, but host Athens ultimately made a 13-point third quarter stick on Friday night during a 42-40 non-conference victory at McAfee Gymnasium.
The visiting Blue Devils (1-1) mustered only a dozen points in a tightly-contested first half, but the Bulldogs (2-2) extended a 5-point halftime lead out to 29-16 late in the third quarter.
GAHS, however, answered with a quick 7-2 surge that whittled the deficit down to 31-23 headed into the finale.
The Blue and White hit 7-of-11 shot attempts in the fourth quarter and closed the gap down to 42-40, then had a chance to tie things up in the waning moments of regulation.
Cooper Davis drove into the lane and managed a 10-foot runner in heavy traffic, but the shot attempt came up short and fell into the hands of Isaac Clary underneath. The big man gathered control of the ball as time expired, then released a successful putback after the buzzer — allowing AHS to hold on for the 2-point decision.
The Blue Devils kept pace in the opening eight minutes as Kenyon Franklin and Noah Vanco hit trifectas while Athens built an early 10-8 edge, then the hosts used a small 7-4 second quarter run to extend the cushion out to 17-12 at the break.
Brayden Whiting and Will Matters each scored six points for AHS during a 14-11 run in the third frame, giving the Green and Gold an 8-point advantage entering the stretch run. GAHS answered with a 17-11 surge that ultimately came up one basket short.
Gallia Academy outrebounded the Bulldogs by a 32-26 overall margin, including an 11-6 edge on the offensive glass. GAHS also committed 16 of the 28 turnovers in the game.
The Blue Devils connected on 16-of-48 field goals attempts for 33 percent, including a 5-of-16 effort from behind the arc for 31 percent. The guests were also 3-of-4 at the free throw line for 75 percent.
Davis led Gallia Academy with 10 points, followed by Clary with nine points and a team-best dozen rebounds. Franklin, Carson Call and Brody Fellure were next with six markers apiece, while Vanco completed the scoring with three points.
The Bulldogs went 19-of-48 from the floor for 40 percent, including a 1-of-15 effort from 3-point territory for seven percent. The hosts were also 3-of-5 at the charity stripe for 60 percent.
Whiting led AHS with a game-high 14 points, followed by Matters with 11 points and Jacob Sayers with eight markers. Derrick Welsh was next with five points, while Shane McBade and Will Ginder completed the winning tally with two points each.
Gallia Academy returns to action Tuesday when it travels to Ironton for an OVC matchup at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.