RACINE, Ohio — It was all fine until the fourth.
The Southern girls basketball team led guest Miller by three points headed into the final stanza of Thursday’s Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division contest in Meigs County, but the Lady Falcons pulled in five offensive boards in the fourth quarter and escaped with a 52-46 victory.
Southern (2-10, 1-8 TVC Hocking) never trailed in the opening quarter, leading by as many as 10 points, at 16-6, 5:33 into play. Miller (8-6, 4-4) was back to within six points, at 18-12, by the end of the period, and then scored the first eight points of the second for its first lead of the night with 5:51 until halftime.
There were three more lead changes in the next two minutes, and the Lady Tornadoes wound up with a 27-24 advantage headed into the break.
The Purple and Gold claimed the first five points of the second half, and led 32-24 with 5:22 left in the third period. Miller closed the quarter with a 9-to-4 spurt, however, leaving SHS with a 36-33 edge to start the fourth.
The Lady Falcons tied the game at 38, before eventually taking the lead for good at 41-40 with a Jace Agriesti two-pointer at the 5:16 mark. Miller also claimed the next four baskets after Agriesti’s, and led 49-40 with 2:22 to play.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Kelly Shaver and Phoenix Cleland cut the MHS lead to three points with 31 seconds left, but the Lady Falcons sealed the 52-46 win by making 3-of-5 free throws in the final 30 seconds.
For the game, Southern shot 19-of-54 (35.2 percent) from the field, including 4-of-20 (20 percent) from deep, while Miller made 20-of-58 (34.5 percent) field goal attempts, including 6-of-30 (20 percent) three-point tries. At the foul line, SHS was 4-of-6 (66.7 percent) and MHS shot 6-for-12 (50 percent).
The Lady Falcons won the rebounding battle by a 38-to-28 clip, including 17-to-9 on the offensive end. Both teams had 20 turnovers in the contest, with nine apiece in the fourth quarter. The hosts combined for 13 assists, 11 steals and two rejections, while the guests collected 15 assists, nine steals and four blocked shots.
SHS was led by Jordan Hardwick with 17 points, featuring one triple, six two-pointers, and a 2-for-2 day at the line. Kayla Evans scored 13 points in the setback, Shaver added six on a pair of trifectas, while Shelby Cleland ended with four. Phoenix Cleland and Baylee Wolfe posted three points each for SHS, with Cleland earning a team-best five assists.
Phoenix Cleland led the hosts on the glass with seven boards, followed by Evans with six, as well as Wolfe, Hardwick and Shelby Cleland with five apiece. Evans led the defensive effort with three steals, with Hardwick and Phoenix Cleland both marking two steals and a block.
Leading the Lady Falcons were Ashley Spencer with 12 points and Alaina Boyden with 10. Askya McFann, Josie Crabtree and Haille Joseph finished with eight points apiece in the win, with McFann claiming a game-best eight assists, and Joseph pulling in a game-high 13 rebounds. Agriesti ended with five markers for Miller, while Emma Joseph scored one.
Miller’s defense was led by Boyden with three steals, Haille Joseph with three blocks, and Spencer with two steals and a block.
These teams are scheduled to finish the regular season against each other on Feb. 6 in Perry County.
Now halfway through its league schedule, Southern — which hosts River Valley in a non-league bout on Saturday — begins its second trip through the TVC Hocking on Monday at Belpre.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.