TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Some things are worth the wait.
The Eastern boys basketball team soared to a 28-16 lead during the first eight minutes of Friday night’s 2017-18 season finale, but despite a late Belpre rally that forced overtime, the Eagles held on for a 73-71 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division victory at The Nest in Meigs County.
EHS (10-12, TVC Hocking 5-11) utilized an 11-of-18 performance from the field in the opening period — while BHS (12-10, 11-5) made 6-of-14 field goal attempts — to take an eight-point advantage into the second quarter.
The Green and Gold extended their lead to 40-31 in the second frame, despite a 15-12 run by the Golden Eagles over that span.
Eastern ended the first half by making 16-of-29 shots from the field for 55 percent, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc for 75 percent. The Eagles also made 5-of-7 shots from the charity stripe for 71 percent. EHS collected 15 rebounds and committed six turnovers.
Belpre, conversely, connected on 11-of-30 field goals for 36 percent, including 4-of-9 from three-point range for 44 percent. The Golden Eagles also made 5-of-9 attempts from the free throw line for 55 percent. BHS gathered nine rebounds and committed five giveaways.
Both teams shot poorly in the third period, as the hosts made just three field goals while committing six turnovers. The visitors countered with a 3-of-11 performance from the field, as Eastern held a 48-39 lead entering the finale.
The momentum of the contest shifted in favor of Belpre in the fourth quarter, as a three-point play by Brandon Simoniette cut Eastern’s lead to 48-47 with 5:54 remaining.
The Golden Eagles eventually tied the contest at 59-all when Logan Adams connected on a trifecta with 1:31 left in regulation.
BHS appeared poised to earn the win when Adams connected on two free throws with 15 seconds remaining, but Eastern’s Kaleb Hill nailed a clutch shot with one second remaining — knotting the game at 61 apiece while forcing an extra four-minute session.
The game remained tight in overtime, as Belpre held a 70-69 lead with 1:35 left to play. Eastern however closed on a 3-2 run — by way of a 3-of-4 effort from the charity stripe — to earn the one-point victory.
Following the game EHS head coach Jeremy Hill was pleased with his team’s performance.
“This win is much more than a state championship,” Hill said. “We have a very young group. We have 10 players and only two of them had varsity experience coming into the year. We lost six games this season on last-second shots. We didn’t know how to finish. However, tonight we finished.
“We were able to hold our composure. We didn’t play a perfect game, but we finished the basketball game. This win is sweeter than any win we’ve had because we sent our seniors out right.”
Overall, EHS connected on 25-0f-55 field goal attempts for 45 percent, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. The Eagles also made 11-of-20 from the free throw line for 55 percent. The Green, White and Gold gather 32 rebounds and committed 14 turnovers.
Isaiah Fish led the way with a game-high 33 markers, including a 7-of-12 effort from the charity stripe.
Colton Reynolds was next with 17 points, including three trifectas, while Garrett Barringer followed with 12 markers.
Sharp Facemeyer added five points and Kaleb Hill provided four markers.
Brayden Holter rounded out the scoring for the Eagles with two points.
Holter’s addition to the line up provided a memorable start to the contest, as the EHS senior had missed all prior games this season due to injury.
“I asked the Belpre administration and the coaching staff if they’d help me and allow him to start,” Hill said. “It was Belpre’s head coach with the idea to let him maybe get a shot off. In the end, it might have affected the outcome of the game and I wish it wouldn’t have been like that.
“However, if in the future Belpre would ever need anything like that from me … I would definitely do it for them. I really appreciated their generosity and cooperation of being able to give him a memory of a lifetime.”
Belpre finished with a 22-of-57 performance from the field for 38 percent, including 7-of-14 from three-point range for 50 percent. The Golden Eagles collected 21 rebounds and committed 15 giveaways.
Adams led BHS with 27 points, including two trifectas and a 9-of-12 effort from the free throw line.
Simoniette followed with 17 markers and Cole Knotts was next with 11 points.
Bailey Sprague finished with 1o points, while Connor Baker provided four markers.
Nate Godfrey concluded the scoring for Belpre with two markers.
It was the final basketball game for seniors Kaleb Hill and Brayden Holter in the Green and Gold.
Scott Jones can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext 2106.