GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — One team provided the pressure. The other ended up in the cooker.
The Eastern boys basketball team forced 36 turnovers and shot 48 percent from the field on Tuesday night during a 77-35 victory over host Ohio Valley Christian in a non-conference matchup in the Old French City.
The visiting Eagles (6-3) led wire-to-wire and built a quick 6-0 edge 90 seconds into regulation, but the Defenders (1-9) — who were without leading scorer and primary ball-handler Justin Beaver due to an illness — rallied with a 10-5 run over the next four-plus minutes to pull within 11-10.
The Blue and Gold, however, were never closer as EHS forced 11 first quarter turnovers and closed the final 1:51 with a 9-0 surge that extended the lead out to 20-10 through eight minutes of play.
OVCS committed seven turnovers before even attempting a shot at the start of the second frame, and the Green and White turned that into five straight points while building a 25-10 edge with 5:01 left until halftime.
EHS followed with a small 12-10 run over the next four minutes to extend the lead out to 37-20, then made a quick 6-0 spurt in the final minute to secure a sizable 43-20 intermission advantage.
The hosts shot the ball extremely well in the first half after hitting 8-of-11 shot attempts, but 26 first half turnovers ultimately thwarted any kind of progress on the offensive end of the floor.
Eastern, conversely, went 18-of-37 from the floor in the opening 16 minutes and committed only seven turnovers during that span.
The Eagles made a 15-4 run in the third to increase the lead out to 58-24 entering the finale, then closed regulation with a 19-11 spurt to wrap up the 42-point outcome — which ended up being the largest lead of the night.
Eastern had 10 different players reach the scoring column and committed only 11 turnovers in the triumph, 25 less miscues than the hosts had.
Afterwards, EHS coach David Kight was pleased with overall performance — although there were some things that he wants to see his troops improve on.
“We came out with pretty good energy tonight. We wanted to extend our defense and force some pressure, which I thought we did that well early on. We need to do a better job of converting those turnovers into points, however. Playing at that chaotic pace is what we want to do, but we cannot afford to shoot the ball at that same chaotic pace,” Kight said. “Give credit to OVC because they played us tough and the big kid in the middle hurt us a little bit, so we have some things to work on leaving here tonight. All in all though, it was a great team effort that a lot of people contributed to. We’ll need more of our intensity from tonight as we move forward.”
Conversely, OVCS coach Steve Rice noted that the turnover bug was a problem, but he was proud of the way his kids took adversity and fought through it.
“We had some positive sequences tonight on both ends of the floor, but we just had way too many turnovers. That was what killed us tonight,” Rice said. “We had some players out sick and were basically left with six players in our rotation, but the kids battled from start to finish. They showed some character while facing adversity, but at least we can grow from this.”
The Defenders outrebounded the guests by a slim 26-25 overall margin, but Eastern claimed a 10-5 edge on the offensive glass.
The Eagles netted 32-of-67 shot attempts overall, including a 4-of-12 effort from behind the arc for 33 percent. The Green and White were also 9-of-14 at the free throw line for 64 percent.
Garrett Barringer led the guests with a game-high 19 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds, followed by Ryan Dill with 18 points and Colten Reynolds with 15 markers.
Isaiah Fish was next with nine points, while Sharp Facemyer and Dylan Creath respectively added five and three points. Noah Browning, Evin Bauer, Mason Dishong and Derrick Metheney completed the winning tally with two markers apiece.
Fish followed Barringer with four rebounds, with Facemyer and Dishong each hauling in three caroms for the victors.
OVCS made 14-of-33 field goal attempts for 42 percent, including a 2-of-12 effort from behind the arc for 17 percent. The hosts were also 5-of-6 at the charity stripe for 83 percent.
Mark Oliver paced the Defenders with 12 points and eight rebounds, followed by Bryce Gruber with seven points and Andrew Dubs with six markers.
Miciah Swab and Conner Walter were next with four points each, while Jeremiah Swab completed the scoring with two markers.
Walter followed Oliver with five rebounds, with Dubs and Gruber respectively hauling in four and three boards in the setback.
Eastern returns to action Friday when it hosts Trimble in a TVC Hocking contest at 6 p.m. The Defenders host Covenant on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.