RACINE, Ohio — It’s not always about how you start something, but rather how you finish it.
The Southern boys basketball team committed eight turnovers and managed just three shot attempts in the opening four minutes of play, but the hosts ultimately sank nine trifectas and shot 50 percent from the field Friday night en route to a 68-49 victory over Trimble in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup at Charles W. Hayman Gymnasium.
The Tornadoes (9-9, 7-7 TVC Hocking) struggled to find any kind of rhythm early in the contest, as the visiting Tomcats (9-10, 7-6) jumped out to a pair of seven-point leads — thanks in large part to nine SHS turnovers in the opening canto.
Southern, however, answered with a small 4-1 run over the final two minutes of the first period to cut its deficit down to 15-11 after one quarter of play.
The Tornadoes rode that momentum the rest of the way, as the hosts connected on 20-of-37 shot attempts and committed only 10 turnovers after the opening stanza while establishing a lead that grew to as much as 21 points in the second half.
The victory allowed Southern to again pull its overall and league record to an even .500, and the decision also gave SHS a season split with Trimble. The Tornadoes suffered a 66-50 setback at THS back on January 4.
It wasn’t the best of beginnings, but SHS coach Jeff Caldwell was proud with how his guys overcame early adversity to come away with this important triumph.
“Anytime you can knock somebody off that has already beaten you earlier in the year, it shows how much improvement we’ve made during that span of time,” Caldwell said. “We had a little bit of a slow start, but overall I thought it was a good win for us.
“The defense was, for the most part, good enough tonight, and I believe we are a capable team offensively when we don’t turn the ball over. When we have turnovers, we tend to have them bunches — and that really hurts us.”
The Tornadoes held THS scoreless for 3:37 between the opening two quarters and went on a 10-0 surge during that time frame, which allowed the hosts to claim a 20-15 edge. A Tristen Wolfe jumper at the 6:39 mark gave Southern a 16-15 advantage, a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the night.
The Tomcats twice cut their deficit down to two points, the last of which came at the 4:58 mark of the second canto after Konner Standley hit a basket for a 22-20 contest.
Southern responded with a 13-4 charge over the next 2:44 to secure its biggest lead of the first half at 35-24 with 2:13 remaining, but the guests countered with a small 4-0 spurt to get to within 35-28 at the break.
Trimble missed its first nine shot attempts of the third period, while Southern nailed six of its first seven field goal tries while extending its lead out to 48-28 with 4:15 remaining.
THS finally broke into the second half scoring column at the 3:22 mark with a basket from Standley, but Wolfe netted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 51-30 edge with just over three minutes left.
Both teams traded trifectas over the duration of the third frame, which allowed the hosts to secure a comfortable 57-36 cushion headed into the finale.
Southern — which led by 21 points on five separate occasions in the second half — never allowed Trimble to get closer than 14 points, which came at 57-43 with 5:06 left in regulation. SHS closed the game with a 11-6 spurt to wrap up the 19-point decision.
The Tornadoes connected on 24-of-48 field goal attempts overall, which included a sizzling 9-of-15 performance from three-point range for 60 percent. The hosts committed 19 turnovers and also went 11-of-16 at the free throw line for 69 percent.
Tristen Wolfe led SHS with a game-high 29 points, 27 of which came in the first three quarters of play. Taylor McNickle was next with 17 points, followed by Casey Pickens with seven markers. Hunter Johnson, Zac Beegle and Dennis Teaford rounded out the scoring with five points apiece.
The Tomcats sank 19-of-58 shot attempts for 33 percent, including a 5-of-21 effort from behind the arc for 24 percent. The guests committed 14 turnovers and also made 6-of-12 charity tosses for 50 percent.
Jacob Koons paced THS with 20 points, followed by Wyatt Deak with eight points and Konner Standley with six markers.