MERCERVILLE, Ohio — You could say the Rebels were in the zone.
The South Gallia boys basketball team shot 56 percent from the field while claiming its sixth straight victory Friday night during a 77-63 decision over visiting Belpre in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Gallia County.
The host Rebels (10-2, 6-2 TVC Hocking) utilized a 2-3 zone to near perfection during the first half, as the Golden Eagles (7-8, 5-4) netted only 10-of-31 shot attempts — including a 2-of-15 effort from behind the arc — before the break.
SGHS, which trailed only seven seconds in the entire contest, led by as many as 10 points twice in the first half and ultimately led by double digits over the final 9:16 of regulation. The hosts also sank 17-of-27 field goal attempts in the second half and led by as many as 17 points with 4:41 remaining.
In all, it was just another solid effort by the Rebels — who avenged a 58-52 setback at BHS back on December 4. Fourth-year SGHS coach Larry Howell was pleased with how the second go-around with Belpre went afterwards.
“We knew that Belpre was going to come in and play us tough, and they did,” Howell said. “We covered the guys we needed to in that zone and encouraged them to beat us outside, hoping to negate some of their athleticism. Early on, they took the shots we wanted them to take and we did a good job of limiting those to just one shot.
“In having a decent lead to work with, we extended our defense to a 1-3-1 press to just try and keep them rattled. We just did a really good job tonight on the defensive end and it transitioned nicely into our offense. We’re just really playing well right now and this is another good win for us.”
Tavian Miller hit a free throw at the 5:37 mark of the first period, giving Belpre its only lead of the night. Landon Hutchinson answered with a basket at the 5:30 mark to give the Rebels an advantage they would never relinquish.
Joseph Ehman followed with seven points during a 12-8 run over the final 5:10, which gave the hosts a 16-11 cushion after eight minutes of play.
SGHS led 21-11 with 6:36 left in the half and were again up 10 points (31-21) with 1:32 remaining, but the Golden Eagles pieced together a small 4-0 run to enter halftime trailing 31-25.
Belpre hit its first four shot attempts of the second half and closed to within 37-35 with 5:07 left in the third canto, but the Red and Gold answered with an 18-10 charge to secure a 55-45 edge headed into the finale.
The hosts made a 12-5 run in the opening three-plus minutes of the fourth for a 67-50 edge, and the Golden Eagles ultimately never came closer than 71-58 with 2:15 remaining.
South Gallia claimed a small 29-27 overall advantage on the boards, with both teams hauling in 11 offensive rebounds. BHS committed 15 turnovers in the contest and the hosts turned the ball over 18 times.
SGHS connected on 29-of-52 shot attempts overall, which included a 7-of-15 effort from three-point range for 47 percent. The Rebels were also 12-of-24 at the free throw line for 50 percent.
Ehman led the Rebels with a game-high 35 points, 26 of which came in the second half. Landon Hutchinson was next with 15 points, while Corey Rhodes and Darren Drenner respectively chipped in 10 and eight markers.
Dominick Johnson added four points to the winning cause, while Kane Hutchinson and Caleb Henry rounded things out with respective efforts of three and two points. Drenner, Landon Hutchinson and Kane Hutchinson each had six rebounds for the hosts.
The Golden Eagles netted 24-of-57 shot attempts for 42 percent, including a 5-of-20 effort from behind the arc for 25 percent. The guests were also 10-of-15 at the charity stripe for 67 percent.
Deijon Bedgood paced Belpre with 23 points and six rebounds, followed by Mythius Houghton with 18 markers and five caroms. Miller and Nathan Mason were next with six points apiece, while Ethan Williams added four markers.
Cole Knotts chipped in three points, with Kaurice Wadeskey and Bailey Sprague rounding out the Belpre tally with respective efforts of two points and one point.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.