CENTENARY, Ohio — Devils’ defense dazzles again.
For the second straight game, the Gallia Academy boys basketball team held its opponent under 40 points, with the Blue Devils taking a 59-37 non-conference victory over visiting Meigs on Tuesday night in Gallia County.
Gallia Academy (2-0) hit the game’s opening bucket, but Meigs (0-3) held its host off the board for the next three minutes, as the Marauders surged into a 5-3 lead. However, GAHS ended the first quarter with a 12-2 run and a 15-7 lead.
The Maroon and Gold outscored the Gallia Academy by a 9-6 count in the slow-paced second quarter, trimming the margin to 21-16 by halftime.
MHS cut its deficit to as low as three points in the opening minute of the second half, but never got closer, as the Blue Devils extended their advantage to 36-23 by the end of the third quarter.
GAHS expanded its lead throughout the finale, shooting over 50 percent from the field in the period to seal the 59-37 victory, with the 22-point final margin as the largest of the game.
“I thinks its been 8-to-10 years since a Gallipolis team has started out 2-0,” GAHS head coach Gary Harrison said. “It was an ugly win, but Meigs is a good team. We didn’t shoot it well, but with our experience, the guys persevered and that’s what good teams do.”
For the game, GAHS shot 21-of-65 (32.3 percent) from the field, including 6-of-20 (30 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Meigs made 13-of-43 (30.2 percent) from the field, including 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from deep. From the charity stripe, the Blue Devils shot 9-of-16 (56.3 percent), while the Marauders were 8-of-12 (66.7 percent).
“Our kids are going to compete,” MHS head coach Ed Fry said. “We have Christian Mattox, Zach Bartrum and Weston Baer who’ve been through the fire before, and to everyone else, this is a whole new thing for them. Those three know that we can play with anybody when we want to. The rebounding was better tonight, I thought Bobby Musser did a good job putting his body on the big guy (Zach Loveday), who of course is a really good player and has improved a lot since last year.”
After being outrebounded by six in the first half, GAHS fought back to win the rebounding battle by a 37-to-26 count, including 13-to-4 on the offensive end. The Blue Devils also held advantages of 14-to-10 in assists, 5-to-4 in steals and 9-to-3 in blocked shots. The Blue and White committed a dozen turnovers in the win, while Meigs gave the ball away 15 times.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well and we’ll have nights like that, but defensively, we just locked them down.” Harrison said. “When your holding teams in the 30’s your going to win a lot of games. Zach Loveday really controlled the defensive boards and I thought Caleb Henry did a great job on the offensive boards, getting them and just putting them in.”
Offensively, the Blue Devils were led by Evan Wiseman and Justin McClelland with 13 points apiece. Loveday, a sophomore, finished with a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds, to go with team-highs of five assists and six blocks for the hosts.
Henry scored 11 points and pulled in seven rebounds in the triumph, while Logan Blouir chipped in with four points. Bailey Walker contributed three points to the winning cause, Kaden Thomas added two, while Cory Call came up with one.
Baer led the way for Meigs with 13 points, followed by Bartrum with 11 points and six assists. Musser scored five points, hauled in six rebounds and blocked three shots for the Maroon and Gold, Cooper Darst added four points and a team-high 10 rebounds, while Nick Lilly scored three points and Mattox had one marker.
The Marauders lost more than the game, as Mattox and Darst both left the game due to injury, in the first and second halves respectively.
“When you lose those kids, you lose a lot, especially when you’re thin anyway,” Fry said. “These guys are going to be out a little while with sprained ankles, Cooper came down on somebody’s foot and Christian rolled his. We just got Weston Baer back, he’s only practiced four days, and I thought he was able to finally turn it loose tonight.”
The Blue and White continue their home stand on Saturday against non-conference rival Jackson.
“We have Jackson coming and its going to be a good game with two 2-0 teams,” Harrison said. “They’re going to play hard, we’re going to play hard and its going to be a packed house. They’re in our sectional and it’s a rivalry game, it’s going to be fun.”
Meigs continues non-league play on Friday at Warren and then will face Ironton on Saturday, as part of the 12th annual Newt Oliver Coaches Classic.
“We have to figure some things out,” Fry said. “I’ve coached a long time, I have some things packed away and I’m going to dig through the archives to see if we can come up with something. I’d like to get them all healthy. I’ve had everybody for a complete practice maybe twice so far this year. Now we have to kind of start from scratch again.”
This is the lone scheduled meeting between MHS and GAHS this season.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.