MASON, W.Va. — Sometimes looks can be deceiving.
The Wahama girls basketball team committed 32 turnovers — including 18 in the opening half — and missed its first 18 shots after halftime, but an 18-10 fourth quarter run ultimately led to a 45-40 victory over visiting South Gallia on Thursday night in Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division contest at Gary Clark Court in Mason County.
The Lady Falcons (4-6, 2-6 TVC Hocking) committed nine turnovers apiece in each of the first two quarters and never led until the final 1:57 of the first half, yet somehow managed to take a 22-18 edge into the break.
The Lady Rebels (3-7, 1-6), however, held the hosts without a field goal in third quarter while making a 12-5 surge that gave the Red and Gold a 30-27 cushion headed into the finale.
Both teams led twice down the stretch, but the game ended up tied 38-all with 2:17 remaining in regulation. Freshman Emma Gibbs scored four consecutive points over the next 16 seconds, sparking a 7-2 run the rest of the way that allowed the Red and White to wrap up the five-point decision.
A big difference in the final outcome came at the free throw line, though it had more to do with conversions than opportunities. The Lady Falcons made 23-of-29 charity tosses for 79 percent, while the guests netted only 15-of-26 attempts for 58 percent.
The Lady Rebels also committed 20 turnovers in the setback and were outrebounded by a 42-29 overall margin, which included an 18-13 edge on the offensive glass.
Wahama — which doubled last year’s win total with the decision — picked up its third triumph in four outings, as well as the program’s first-ever TVC Hocking victory over SGHS since joining the league back in the fall of 2010.
Afterwards, WHS coach John Arnott was thrilled with final outcome — mainly because of the character and resiliency that his young squad showed in the face of adversity.
“I’m really pleased with them because we never gave up at any point tonight. With everything that was going wrong, we could have very easily folded up the tent and called it a night. The kids just wouldn’t quit,” Arnott said. “Emma (Gibbs) and Hannah (Rose) did not have their best games, but all of the other kids really stepped it up and really gave us some quality minutes. This was a huge step in the right direction for us tonight and we really showed signs of growth.
“Honestly, this is probably the biggest win for this program in well over five years … and probably longer than that. We overcame all kinds of adversity and we won a tightly-contested game at the free throw line. We found a way to get it done, and that’s what I am most proud of.”
South Gallia built its biggest lead of the night by scoring the first five points of regulation just 90 seconds into the contest, but the hosts answered with four straight points from Gibbs to close the gap down to 5-4 at the 4:39 mark of the opening canto.
The Lady Rebels, however, closed the quarter with a 5-2 run to secure a 10-6 cushion through eight minutes of play.
The guests maintained their lead up until Elizabeth Mullins made a basket at the 1:57 mark of the second frame, giving Wahama its first lead of the night at 16-15. That bucket also sparked an 8-3 run to close out the half, allowing the Red and White to take a four-point cushion into the intermission.
South Gallia — which had nine turnovers in the first half — went 6-of-20 from the field in the opening 16 minutes, while the hosts were 7-of-16 from the floor over that same span. Both teams also went 0-for-4 from behind the arc in the first half.
WHS went ice cold in the third frame after going 0-for-15 from the floor, and Amaya Howell capped a 7-3 run with a basket at the 4:26 mark that once again put South Gallia in front by a 25-24 margin. The Red and Gold followed with a small 5-3 run that gave the guests a 30-27 edge headed into the fourth.
Hannah Rose opened the finale with trifecta that tied the game at 30-all, but Aaliyah Howell and Erin Evans answered with a field goal and two free throws that once again pushed the Lady Rebel lead out to four points with 6:02 remaining.
Rose, however, countered with five consecutive points to give Wahama a 35-34 edge with 3:22 left, but Olivia Hornsby responded with four straight points to once again push SGHS ahead at 38-35 with 2:48 remaining.
The Lady Falcons retaliated with a 9-0 run over the next 1:47 to claim their largest lead of the game at 44-38. The guests ended regulation with a small 2-1 run to wrap up the two-possession outcome.
Wahama connected on 10-of-43 shot attempts for 23 percent, including a 2-of-8 effort from three-point range for 25 percent.
Rose — who was held scoreless in the first quarter — led the hosts with a game-high 17 points despite making only two field goals, both of which were trifectas.
Gibbs was next with a double-double effort 11 points and 20 rebounds, while Harley Roush added eight markers. Gibbs also recorded seven blocked shots in the triumph.
Victoria VanMatre chipped in six points and Mullins added two points, while Ashtyn Russell completed the winning tally with a single point. Roush and Victoria VanMatre also grabbed seven and six boards, respectively.
South Gallia — which had a two-game winning streak snapped — made 12-of-51 field goal attempts for 24 percent, including a 1-of-12 effort from behind the arc for eight percent.
Aaliyah Howell led the guests with 11 points and Hornsby contributed nine points, while Evans and Faith Poling each added seven markers.
Amaya Howell was next with three points, Christine Griffith chipped in two points and Kiley Stapleton completed the scoring with one point.
Despite picking up her fourth foul with 4:26 left in the third quarter, Poling still led the Lady Rebels with 10 rebounds. Hornsby and Griffith also grabbed five caroms apiece in the setback.
The Red and Gold also lost Evans with 2:17 left in regulation due to a fifth foul and Aaliyah Howell fouled out with 6.1 seconds remaining.
SGHS coach Corey Small was not available for comment after the game.
Wahama returns to the hardwood Monday when it travels to Ashton for a battle with Hannan at 6 p.m.
South Gallia returns to action Monday when it travels to Gallipolis for a non-conference matchup with Ohio Valley Christian at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.