CENTENARY, Ohio — The difference came in the starts.
Gallia Academy combine to outscore Point Pleasant by a 40-5 margin in the first and third quarters en route to a 66-34 victory on Thursday night in a non-conference girls basketball contest in Gallia County.
The Blue Angels (2-0) made their first three shot attempts while taking an 8-0 advantage a little over two minutes into regulation … and the hosts ultimately never looked back.
The visiting Lady Knights (0-2) followed with consecutive baskets by Peyton Campbell to trim the deficit in half with 4:54 left, but the Blue and White answered with a 7-0 run to secure a 15-4 edge after eight minutes of play.
The Red and Black countered with a 6-3 run to close to within 18-10 with 4:42 left in the half, but the hosts responded with a 13-6 surge to take a comfortable 31-16 cushion into the intermission.
Gallia Academy upped its lead to 33-16 less than a minute into the third quarter, but a pair of turnovers led to a timeout and a spirited pep talk by Joe Justice at the 6:37 mark.
From there, the Blue Angels scored the next 14 points over a 3:13 span — allowing the hosts to secure a sizable 47-16 lead with under four minutes left in the third canto.
Point Pleasant — which committed a dozen turnovers while being outscored 25-1 in the third stanza — came away with its only point at the 2:54 mark following a Campbell free throw, but the hosts answered with nine straight points to close out the period for a 56-17 advantage headed into the finale.
Hunter Copley gave GAHS its largest lead of the night at 58-17 following a basket with 7:35 remaining, at which time the Blue Angels started pulling their starters in favor of getting some experience for their reserves.
The Lady Knights closed the final 7:18 of regulation with a 17-8 run to wrap up the 32-point outcome.
Following the game, Justice was pleased — for the most part — with his squad’s overall performance, though he did feel his girls were a little too relaxed coming out of the halftime break.
However, after that early third quarter timeout, the fifth-year frontman was much happier with the effort and intensity.
“We weren’t getting the 50-50 balls there early on, so I called a timeout to get on them a little bit to get them motivated,” Justice said. “Once we decided that we wanted to play, we were able to make a run and really put things out of reach.
“We just need to stay focused on playing our style and doing the things that we want to do instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing. We still have a long way to go because we have a young group, but we are getting better each and every day.”
Conversely, PPHS coach John Fields didn’t have his full roster available on Thursday night — which did cause the Lady Knights problems over the course of the game.
Then again, as he noted, his young troops never really managed to help their own cause — particularly over the full 32 minutes of play.
“We were missing one of our guards, so we had to extend our rotation in ways that we don’t normally do and put players in positions they don’t normally play,” Fields said. “We struggled offensively, had too many turnovers and just lacked some hustle when we needed to have it.
“It’s a young group and we’ll go back to the drawing board, starting with our game at Athens on Saturday. The girls never gave up, which was a plus, but we need to find that consistent effort for four quarters.”
The Blue Angels outrebounded the guests by a 35-26 overall margin, including a 19-6 edge on the offensive glass. The hosts also committed 14turnovers, exactly half of the 28 miscues made by PPHS.
Gallia Academy connected on 27-of-74 field goal attempts for 36 percent, including a 4-of-12 effort from three-point territory for 33 percent. The Blue and White also netted 8-of-16 free throw attempts for 50 percent.
Copley led GAHS with a game-high 21 points, followed by Alex Barnes with 13 points and Maddy Petro with a dozen markers.
Ashton Webb was next with eight points, while Ryelee Sipple and Abby Cremeans respectively chipped in seven and four points. Lexi Campbell completed the winning tally with one point.
Barnes led the hosts with eight rebounds, followed by Copley with seven boards and Petro with six caroms.
The Lady Knights netted 13-of-37 shot attempts for 35 percent, including a 2-of-10 effort from three-point range for 20 percent. The guests were also 6-of-16 at the charity stripe for 38 percent.
Campbell paced PPHS with 15 points, followed by Lanea Cochran with a double-double effort of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Hannah Smith was next with eight points, while Kelly Marr completed the scoring with one point. Campbell and Marr also hauled in four rebounds apiece in the setback.
Gallia Academy returns to action Saturday when it hosts Wellston, while the Lady Knights travel to Athens on Saturday.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.