CENTENARY, Ohio — Even without the big man, the Blue Devils were still too hot to handle.
The Gallia Academy boys basketball team shot 49 percent from the field and used a 32-21 run over the final 10:55 of regulation Friday night to secure a hard-fought 60-49 non-conference victory over visiting Meigs in the season opener for both programs in Gallia County.
The host Blue Devils (1-0) were without the services of 6-foot-8 center Isaac Clary for most of the second half, as the junior was saddled with foul trouble down the stretch.
Clary — who managed about eight minutes of playing time after the break — respectively picked up his third and fourth personal fouls less than a minute into each of the final two frames, which helped the Marauders (0-1) negate what was otherwise a very lop-sided size discrepancy in the front court.
MHS — which never led in the first half — took its only lead of the night with 4:35 remaining in the third after a Coulter Cleland basket made it a 25-24 contest.
GAHS countered with four straight points to reclaim the lead, but an Ethan Stewart trifecta at the 2:56 mark of the third period tied things up at 28-all.
Then, the Blue and White made their game-winning charge.
Drake Phillips poured in all seven of his points over the next 2-plus minutes and sparked an 11-4 surge to close out the third frame, allowing Gallia Academy to take a 39-32 cushion into the finale.
The Maroon and Gold were never closer than seven points the rest of the way, and the Blue Devils went on a 14-5 run to start the fourth — which led to their largest lead of the night at 53-37 with 2:51 left in regulation.
A Braylon Harrison basket with 1:10 remaining allowed Meigs to whittle the deficit back down to single digits at 56-48, but the hosts ended regulation with a 4-1 spurt to complete the 11-point outcome.
Gallia Academy led by as many as seven points in each of the first two cantos en route to leads of 16-10 after one quarter and 22-18 at the break. The hosts also didn’t lead by more than seven points throughout the third frame.
The Blue Devils outrebounded Meigs by a 32-28 overall margin, but the guests — despite the size difference — claimed a 9-7 edge on the offensive glass. Both teams also committed 14 turnovers apiece in the contest.
GAHS netted 24-of-49 shot attempts overall, including a 2-of-8 effort from behind the arc for 25 percent. The hosts were also 10-of-16 at the free throw line for 63 percent.
Clary led a balanced Gallia Academy attack with 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Carson Call followed with 11 points. Brody Fellure and Zane Loveday were next with eight points apiece, while Phillips chipped in seven markers to the winning cause.
Wesley Saunders added six points and Kenyon Franklin completed the winning tally with four points. Franklin and Fellure also hauled in seven caroms apiece for the victors.
The Marauders sank 16-of-47 field goal attempts for 34 percent, including a 6-of-18 effort from behind the arc for 33 percent. The guests also went 9-of-17 at the charity stripe for 53 percent.
Coulter Cleland paced MHS with 19 points and nine rebounds, both game-highs. Stewart was next with nine points, while Harrison and Brayden Stanley respectively chipped in eight and five markers.
Chase Garcia followed with four points, with Griffin Cleland and Caleb Burnem completing the scoring with two markers each. Stewart also hauled in seven boards in the setback.
Gallia Academy returns to action Friday when it hosts Athens in a non-conference matchup at 7 p.m.
The Marauders hit the hardwood again on Tuesday when they travel to Marietta for a non-conference tilt at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.