RACINE, Ohio — This time, the Tornadoes left no doubt.
The Southern boys basketball team — which escaped with a 52-44 victory at Wahama on Dec. 14 — did without the drama on Monday in Meigs County, as the Purple and Gold stormed to a 79-34 victory over the visiting White Falcons in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division finale for both teams.
Southern (14-7, 11-5 TVC Hocking) never trailed in the contest, jumping out to an 8-1 lead by 3:45 into play. Wahama (4-17, 3-13) scored five of the next seven points, trimming the margin to four points, at 10-6, with 2:30 left in the opening quarter. However, on the strength of four trifectas, Southern ended the period with a 14-to-2 run and a 24-8 lead.
The Tornadoes hit back-to-back three-pointers to start the second quarter and led 30-8 with six minutes left in the half. The White Falcons answered with a 13-6 run, but were outscored 12-to-1 over the final 2:45 of the quarter, giving Southern a 48-22 halftime advantage.
The teams both scored six points over the first 3:15 of the second half, but WHS was held off the board for the remainder of the period, as the hosts extended their lead to 35 points, at 63-28, with one quarter to play.
SHS led by as many as 48 points in the final quarter and cruised to the 79-34 win.
“We hadn’t played since last Tuesday and that was a tough loss for us at Belpre, so I thought the kids really wanted to play tonight and came out with a lot of energy,” Southern head coach Jeff Caldwell said. “We were getting the ball up and down the floor and that’s usually how we play. We shot the ball pretty well overall tonight. I’m really happy with the effort, because I feel like everyone contributed on both ends of the floor.”
The Purple and Gold won the rebounding battle by a 34-to-32 count, including 18-to-10 on the offensive end. SHS also held advantages of 20-to-5 in assists and 24-to-7 in steals, while Wahama picked up a 7-to-2 edge in blocked shots.
Southern had just 10 turnovers in the game, while the White Falcons turned the ball over 32 times.
“That’s the whole story, our inability to run offense, and just turning the ball over,” Wahama head coach Ron Bradley said. “It’s not for lack of effort, I think they’re playing hard. I keep telling them you have to match execution with effort and until that happens you’re not going to be very successful.”
For the game, Southern shot 33-of-70 (47.1 percent) from the field, including 8-of-25 (32 percent) from beyond the arc, while Wahama shot 10-of-41 (24.4 percent) from the field, including 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) from deep. At the charity stripe, SHS shot 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) and WHS shot 11-of-17 (64.7 percent).
“That’s when we play our best, when we force some turnovers and are able to get out in transition,” Caldwell said. “We created some offense off of our defense and I’m please with the effort. We know we’re going to face a tough challenge come tournament time, so we’re going to have to work to get better. We have a week to get ready for that, so I’m looking forward to it.”
SHS junior Jensen Anderson connected on seven three-pointers and led all scorers with 25 points. Dylan Smith recorded 13 points and five assists for the Purple and Gold, while Brayden Cunningham marked 12 points and six rebounds.
Weston Thorla posted eight points for the victors, Austin Baker added six points, and Larry Dunn contributed five, with both Baker and Dunn hauling in six boards. Trey McNickle and Mark Eblin scored four points apiece, with McNickle dishing out five assists, while Cole Steele rounded out the winning total with two points.
Thorla led the SHS defense with six steals, followed by Cunningham with four steals and a block.
Noah Litchfield led the guests with 13 points, which included a perfect 8-of-8 performance from the free throw line. Dakota Belcher had eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds, Abram Pauley chipped in with seven points, while Tyler Bumgarner and Jonathan Frye scored three points apiece.
Jacob Warth contributed a team-best two assists to the White Falcon cause. Belcher paced the WHS defense with three rejections and one steal, followed by Warth with a pair of steals.
“We came out a week-or-so ago and played really well against Federal Hocking,” Bradley said. “We got a nice win and the kids played well, then we kind of slide back into what we were doing before. Southern is a good basketball team, they’re well-coached and very talented. They’re as good as anybody in the league when they’re playing like that.”
Although the league standings aren’t yet finalized, Wahama is locked into the eighth spot. Southern could finish tied for third, but can not finish below fourth in the final standings.
In a late addition to the schedule, Southern will host Hannan on Thursday in the Tornadoes’ regular season finale.
“We were needing a game on our schedule and saw that Hannan was looking for some games,” Caldwell said. “I don’t like the layoff that we would have had, waiting until the 28th to play. I thought getting another game would help us continue to work on some things and get ready for that game. It gives our kids another chance to suit up and play.”
Wahama wraps up its regular season on Wednesday at Point Pleasant.
“I hope this won’t get us down too much,” Bradley said. “I hope we can bounce back, go down to Point and play well. That’s always a big game, the kids look forward to it as much as we do. Year in and year out that’s a big game and hopefully we can go play well on Wednesday.”
Prior to the game, Southern honored Larry Dunn and Dylan Smith as part of senior night festivities.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.