MERCERVILLE, Ohio — It’s better to win ugly than not win at all.
Despite committing 28 turnovers, the South Gallia boys basketball team managed to come up with the big plays when they were needed most Friday night en route to a 55-50 victory over visiting Waterford in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Gallia County.
The Rebels (5-10, 3-7 TVC Hocking) had nine turnovers in the opening quarter and 17 giveaways by the intermission, but the hosts limited the Wildcates (4-7, 2-6) to just 25 percent shooting in the first half on their way to a 21-18 edge at the break.
Waterford — who led only 28 seconds in the entire contest — took its final lead of the night with 7:18 remaining in the third canto, as Wyatt Porter nailed a field goal for a 22-21 advantage.
SGHS — which committed its 20th turnover of the night less than three minutes into the second half — recaptured the lead for good a minute into the third canto after Mikey Wheeler sank a field goal for a 23-22 edge.
That basket sparked a 13-3 surge over the next four-plus minutes, allowing the Rebels to secure their biggest lead of the quarter at 34-25 with 2:09 left. WHS countered with a 6-2 spurt to close the period trailing 36-31 headed into the finale.
Waterford closed to within three points (36-33) just 11 seconds into the fourth, but ultimately never came closer the rest of the way. South Gallia followed with a 16-8 charge over the next five minutes to secure its biggest lead of the night at 52-41 with 2:41 remaining.
The Wildcats — who have now dropped six straight decisions — closed regulation with a 9-3 run, but their rally bid ultimately came up short on time. The Rebels, with the triumph, avenged an earlier 52-40 setback at WHS back on December 4.
Afterwards, SGHS coach Larry Howell commented that it was far from a flawless effort on behalf of his squad, but he also noted that he was pleased with several other aspects of this outcome.
“Winning ugly wasn’t so bad because we played great defensively,” Howell said. “We played so hard, and I can live with us playing ugly on the offensive end after the way we played on the defensive end.
“We are young, and we need to do a better job of taking care of the ball on offense. However, we executed our game plan well tonight and didn’t just settle for the first shot that came open. I’m very proud of these guys tonight for this win.”
The Rebels had a nice touch from the field when they were able to produce shot opportunities, as the hosts netted 20-of-40 field goal attempts for 50 percent. South Gallia also shot 50 percent in each half, going 9-of-18 from the floor in the first half while finishing with an 11-of-22 performance in the second half.
Waterford, conversely, connected on 19-of-65 field goal tries overall for 29 percent — including an 8-of-32 effort in the opening 16 minutes of play. The guests also committed 17 turnovers in the setback, nine of which came before the break.
South Gallia had seven turnovers and three shot attempts five minutes into regulation, yet found themselves knotted up at two-all until Tanner Pottmeyer sank a free throw at the 2:52 mark for Waterford’s only first half lead at 3-2.
The Rebels responded with back-to-back field goals by Landon Hutchinson and Brayden Greer, which allowed the hosts to secure a 6-3 cushion after eight minutes of play.
WHS twice pulled to within a point at 6-5 and 8-7, but Gus Slone capped a 7-0 run with 4:14 left — allowing SGHS to secure its biggest lead of the first half at 15-7.
Waterford answered with an 11-4 surge to pull back to within a point (19-18) with 1:31 remaining in the half, but C.J. Johnston hit a jumper with 32 seconds left to give the hosts a three-point lead at the break.
Another key factor in the outcome came down to three-point shooting, as the hosts went 2-of-10 from behind the arc for 20 percent. WHS, on the other hand, missed all 13 of its long-range attempts.
There were a lot of little pluses to come away from this victory, but the biggest — according to Howell — was the continuing signs of improvement.
“The proudest thing for me tonight is that every time Waterford made that run at us to get even, we came up with an answer,” Howell said. “We have struggled with that this season as a young team, so it was nice to see something that we’ve been working on finally come together when we needed it.”
Brayden Greer led the Rebels with a game-high 21 points, followed by Landon Hutchinson with 10 points and Mikey Wheeler with six markers. Alex Stapleton and Kody Lambert were next with five points apiece, while Gus Slone and C.J. Johnston each rounded out the scoring with four markers. SGHS was 13-of-20 at the free throw line for 65 percent.
Austin Shriver paced Waterford with 18 points, followed by Cody Paxton and Jacob McCutcheon with seven markers apiece. WHS was 12-of-17 at the charity stripe for 71 percent.