MERCERVILLE, Ohio — Federal Hocking held the South Gallia boys basketball team without a field goal for 7:47 in the third quarter, which ultimately allowed the visiting Lancers to pull away from a one-possession halftime lead and claim a share of the league title Friday night during a 55-40 victory in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Gallia County.
The Rebels (5-13, 3-10 TVC Hocking) put up quite a fight in the opening half of play, as the hosts shot 53 percent from the field while limiting the guests to just 38 percent shooting. But, despite the hot hand, SGHS committed 14 turnovers in the opening 16 minutes of play, which opened the door for the Lancers (14-5, 12-3) to secure a small 27-24 edge at the intermission.
And then, at the start of the second half, everything simply fell apart for South Gallia — as FHHS went on a 15-4 third quarter surge that turned a three-point game into a comfortable 42-28 cushion headed into the finale.
The Rebels — who went just 1-of-10 from the field in the third period — never came closer than 11 points the rest of the way, which allowed the Lancers to secure a share of their first TVC Hocking championship since the 2007-08 campaign.
South Gallia — which held leads in each of the first two cantos — made only 5-of-24 shot attempts and also committed 11 turnovers in the second half, a recipe that eventually led to a rough night for SGHS coach Larry Howell. It also also allowed Fed Hock to secure a season sweep in the series after posting a 62-43 win in Stewart back on January 11.
“We talked to the kids at halftime about leaving some opportunities on the floor in the first half. It’s the difference between being down five or down three or up three at halftime,” Howell said. “We just didn’t defend and we didn’t take care of the ball in the second half. We have to be mentally and physically tougher, especially against teams like this.
“If you don’t defend and don’t value possessions in high school ball, it’s going to be tough to win games. That was the case tonight.”
South Gallia never trailed in the opening four minutes of the contest, as the hosts hit four of their first six shot attempts while storming out to an early 8-2 advantage at the 3:41 mark of the first period.
The Lancers, however, countered with a 13 straight points over the next 4:01, which allowed the guests to take their biggest lead of the first half at 15-8 with 7:16 remaining in the half. FHHS also led 13-8 after one period of play.
The Rebels ended a 4:41 scoreless drought at the 6:59 mark of the second canto after Ethan Swain netted a jumper to get the hosts to within five, and that basket sparked a 14-6 surge that allowed the hosts to take their final lead of the night at 22-21 with 2:21 left until halftime.
Fed Hock, however, countered just 18 seconds later when Max Carney netted a jumper for a 23-22 edge — a lead the guests would retain the rest of the night. The Lancers closed the final 1:43 of the first half with a small 4-2 spurt, giving them a 27-24 edge at the break.
Federal Hocking made a 10-0 run to start the second half, and South Gallia finally broke into the third quarter scoring column after Mikey Wheeler sank a free throw at the 2:34 mark for a 37-25 deficit. The guests responded with a 5-0 run to extend its lead out to 42-25 with 28 seconds remaining in the period.
The Rebels — who missed their first eight shot attempts while committing six turnovers in the third stanza — finally got the ball to go into the hoop with 12.9 seconds left after Landon Hutchinson converted an old-fashioned three-point play, making it a 14-point contest headed into the finale.
Fed Hock extended its lead out to as much as 19 points (49-30) after Ivan Santiago converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 4:58 remaining in the game. SGHS followed with a 10-2 charge to pull within 51-40 with 1:22 left, but the hosts went scoreless the rest of the way as FHHS closed the game with a 4-0 spurt to wrap up the 15-point outcome.
After the game, second-year Fed Hock coach Howie Caldwell was complimentary of the Rebels’ effort. He was also proud of his own squad for what it had accomplished on this night.
“First off, I think Coach (Larry) Howell has done a terrific job down here at South Gallia. His kids play very, very hard and they are disciplined. We knew we were going to be in for a battle, because it is a difficult place to play,” Caldwell said. “We are happy with the way things turned out, especially with our effort there in the third quarter. I thought that was the key in the outcome of this game.
“I’m happy for our players. Now they get to put banner on the wall, which is something this program hasn’t been able to do over the last few years.”
It is the third TVC Hocking title for Howie Caldwell in the last four years, including a pair at Eastern during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns — his final seasons with the Eagles.
Howell also bestowed some praise upon the Lancers, and provided some advice for his own troops for the upcoming weeks.
“I have to give credit to Howie and his kids. He gets them to play so hard,” Howell said. “On our side of this, we just have to get a little bit tougher. We’re less than two weeks away from the tournament, so we really need to come together and start doing some of the little things better.”
South Gallia connected on 15-of-53 field goal attempts for 28 percent, including a 2-of-13 effort from three-point range for 15 percent. The hosts also committed 25 turnovers and went 8-of-11 at the free throw line for 73 percent.
Landon Hutchinson and Brayden Greer each led the Rebels with 11 points, followed by Ethan Swain with eight markers. Gus Slone chipped in four points, while Joseph Ehman and Kody Lambert respectively added three and two markers. Mikey Wheeler rounded out the scoring with one point.
Federal Hocking sank 19-of-47 shot attempts overall for 40 percent, including a 0-for-6 effort from three-point range. The guests committed 16 turnovers and also went 17-of-33 at the charity stripe for 52 percent. FHHS also outrebounded the hosts by a 27-22 overall margin, including a 12-8 edge on the offensive glass.
Shawn Parsons paced the Lancers with 11 points, followed by Peyton Seel with 10 points and Max Carney with nine markers. Pete Crum and Alfy Nichols also contributed seven points apiece to the winning cause.