TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Whatever the Tornadoes did at halftime certainly worked.
The Southern boys basketball team turned a five-point halftime lead into an 18-point advantage by the end of the third quarter, and the Tornadoes cruised to the 53-37 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division host Eastern, on Friday night at ‘The Nest’.
Southern (6-5, 5-2 TVC Hocking) never trailed in the game and led 11-7 after eight minutes of play.
Eastern (3-7, 3-4) tied the game at 13, with a 6-2 run to start the second quarter, but the Eagles didn’t make a field goal for the rest of the half. The Tornadoes ended the half with a 10-to-5 run and a 23-18 lead.
Southern’s defense forced six turnovers and held the Eagles to just six points in the third, and the Tornadoes held a 42-24 headed into the finale. The Purple and Gold led by as much as 22 in the fourth, en route to the 53-37 victory.
“The guys just had a better mindset coming out of the half tonight,” said SHS head coach Jeff Caldwell. “We were going to go out and continue to do what we were doing, being aggressive and doing a nice job on the defensive end. We knew it was going to be tough here, Eastern has a bunch of players that play hard and Jett is one of the best players we’ll play against. I was pretty pleased how our kids played tonight.”
Eastern won the rebounding battle by a narrow 27-26 clip, including 10-to-7 on the offensive glass. Southern committed 13 turnovers in the win, while the Eagles gave the ball away 19 times. SHS also held a 9-to-4 advantage in assists and a 7-to-6 edge in steals.
“We’ve lost five straight games now and in all five, in the first half we’ve looked like a very nice ball club,” EHS head coach Jeremy Hill said. “We executed a game plan and we played right with our opposing teams, then it goes flat in the second half. Take nothing away from Southern, they are a nice ball club that wanted to win more than we did, in the second half. They came out and we didn’t match their intensity. They played better ball, they made more buckets and therefore, the score was a lot worse than what it should have been.”
Southern was 18-of-36 (50 percent) from the field, including 10-of-17 in the second half. The Tornadoes made just one of their nine three-point tries, equaling 11.1 percent. Eastern made just 12-of-44 (27.3 percent) field goal attempts, including 1-of-8 (12.5 percent) three-point attempts.
Southern was just 15-of-26 (57.7 percent) from the free throw line, while Eastern was 12-of-20 (60 percent).
The Tornadoes were led by senior Crenson Rogers, who posted game-highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds.
“He’s doing some good things for us and we expect good things from him,” Coach Caldwell said of Rogers. “The kids are doing a nice job getting him the ball, too. I was really proud of our guards, they handled the ball well tonight. I thought on the defensive end is where we played our best. I’m really proud of the guys’ effort, they played together and they were really focused on what we needed to do, especially on the defensive end.”
Tylar Blevins was next for the Purple and Gold with 12 points and five rebounds, while Dylan Smith, Weston Thorla and Trey Pickens each had six points, with Smith dishing out a game-best four assists. Jonah Hoback rounded out the SHS scoring with one point in the win.
The Tornado defense was led by Smith, Blevins and Kody Greene with two steals each, while Rogers had the game’s lone blocked shot.
Eastern was led by Jett Facemyer — the newest member of the Eagle 1,000-point club — with 14 points. Sharp Facemyer posted 11 points and a game-high three steals for the Green, White and Gold, while Corbett Catlett added six points and five rebounds.
Nate Durst scored three points in the setback, Nick Browning chipped in with two, while Jon Wolfe had one point and a team-best seven rebounds. Garrett Barringer led the Eagles with two assists.
“We’re relying on Jett Facemyer way too much, other guys have to step up and start playing basketball,” Coach Hill said. “They help our ball club in different ways, but you can’t have one scorer, one defender and one rebounder, it doesn’t work. We’re going to mend our minds and our mentality right now. We’re going to need the biggest tourniquet to stop the bleeding and do it quickly, or we’re going to be in for another one of those rotten seasons.”
The Eagles will have their chance to avenge this setback on February 17, when these teams clash in Racine.
Both teams are back in action on Tuesday, with Eastern visiting Miller and Southern hosting league-leader Waterford.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.