Just ask South Gallia.
The Runnin' Rebel (14-6) attack was stopped dead in its tracks Saturday night when Oak Hill (4-16) spoiled senior night in Mercerville with a 70-66 victory.
“This is a Division III school with Division III kids and they play in a Division III league, you have got to respect that. But sometimes it is hard to tell the kids that,” said South Gallia coach Donnie Saunders. “Our shooting percentage was terrible, I don't know if it was our concentration but I give Oak Hill all the credit, they stayed in it early and played with a lot of confidence.”
And confidence is defiantly what the Oaks showed Saturday night.
They never let South Gallia out of their sites, no matter how many times the Rebels tried to escape and took the lead for the last time with 6:32 left in the fourth quarter, never giving it up despite only shooting 11-of-24 from the charity stripe in the final eight minutes.
Despite trying to give the game away with missed free throws, Oak Hill held on to the lead thanks in part to South Gallia's poor 25 percent (5-of-20) shooting effort from the floor and an equally bad 30 percent (3-of-10) effort from the stripe in the final quarter.
South Gallia also had little answer for guard Garland Stiltner and his two big men Matt Crabtree and J.D. Hale. Stiltner had 30 points, five rebounds and eight assists, while Crabtree added 12 points and 15 rebounds and Hale posted 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
They were joined by Corey Farmer with five points and eight rebounds, Garrett Davis with four points and four rebounds and Brandon Patts with two points.
Oak Hill shot a towering 45 percent (24-of-53) from the field and 56 percent (20-of-36) from the stripe. They also dominated the glass with 46 boards and passed their way to 12 assists while grabbing six steals and four blocks.
The win gives the Oaks quite a bit of momentum heading into Tuesday's tournament game against River Valley, as Oak Hill and head coach Gary Harrison grab their best finish in three years with four victories this season after winning one game last year and two in 2003.
Harrison, who is one of five Gallia Academy graduates with 1,000 points and the all-time leading scorer for the Blue Devils, also grabs his first win over an opponent with a winning record in his three year tenure as head coach at Oak Hill
“Gary is a good coach, they are very organized,” said Saunders. “I have been around a long time and I respect Oak Hill.”
And that respect runs a little deeper now with the upset victory Saturday during senior night.
Leading the senior attack at South Gallia was Curt Waugh, who dropped 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals and Bernie Fulks with 10 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Also scoring for the Rebels was Daron Phillips with 14 points, four rebounds and three steals, Josh Wright with eight points, five rebounds and four assists, Dewey Cantrell and Tyler Duncan with six points each, Seth Williamson and Josh Skidmore with two points each and Tyler Porter with one point.
The Rebels shot 31 percent (22-of-71) from the floor and 60 percent (15-of-25) from the free throw line in the game. They also came down with 30 rebounds and grabbed 19 steals while passing their way to seven assists.
Oak Hill was first to take a lead in the game, going up 4-0 thanks in part to nine first quarter points from Stiltner as the Oaks held on for a 15-12 lead through eight minutes of play.
In the second quarter South Gallia came storming back, retaking the lead for only the second time in the game with 7:05 left to play in the half and held onto it through the rest of the quarter.
They led by as much as five in the half, but only managed to be ahead 32-31 heading into the break thanks in part to poor inside shooting.
In fact, South Gallia turned a number of easy basket opportunities into missed shots when they rushed and missed easy lay-ups, while Oak Hill seemed like they could not miss with almost every shot hitting its mark.
By slowing down the Rebel offensive attack and forcing them to play a comfortable Oak Hill pace, there was little that could be done from there.
The Oaks immediately retook the lead to start the third quarter and held onto it through most of the next eight minutes, until South Gallia edged them in the end 51-48 heading into the final period of play.
Again Oak Hill retook a 53-51 lead with 6:32 left to play in the game and blew their lead wide open thanks to a big 3-pointer from Hale. From there, the Oaks jumped out by as much as seven points with 4:12 left to play as the urgency began to show on the South Gallia sideline.
They tried to close the gap and came within four of the visiting squad, until a couple of quick baskets opened up the biggest lead for any team on the night as Oak Hill took a 66-58 lead with only 1:17 left to play in the game.
With a total of 48 fouls in the game, both teams were in double-bonus very early in the fourth quarter and because of that, Oak Hill spent much of the rest of the night at the line.
But it was at the line that the Oaks almost gave the game away, missing numerous easy points and allowing the Rebels to close the gap.
South Gallia closed within four points when Wright hit a wide open Cantrell for three points, but once again Oak Hill was sent to the line for two. This time, however, Stiltner sank both.
Like an instant replay, the Rebels hit another 3-pointer on a pass from Wright to Cantrell to close the gap to only three points, but Oak Hill finally managed to put together enough points at the charity stripe to take the four point victory Saturday night.
It was not the ending the seven South Gallia seniors had hoped for on their last night in Mercerville.
“I really appreciate our seniors, I think our program is on the right track,” said Saunders. “But this year's group is a little up-and-down. A few effortless games and they find out what happens when they don't play hard.”
South Gallia now turns its attention to the postseason Tuesday when it takes on Eastern at Wellston High School. Game time is slated for 8 p.m.