IRONTON, Ohio — It might be more like ice fishing, but the Blue Devils have a story to tell about the big one that got away.
The Gallia Academy boys basketball team let an 9-point halftime lead slip through its fingers Tuesday night as host Ironton used a 28-16 second half surge to rally back for a 54-51 victory in an Ohio Valley Conference contest in Lawrence County.
The Blue Devils (2-1, 0-1 OVC) found themselves in an early 14-4 hole in the first quarter, but the guests countered with a 10-2 surge to close the opening canto trailing 16-14.
GAHS followed with an inside-out approach as big man Isaac Clary poured in eight points and guard Kenyon Franklin tacked on seven points, sparking a 21-10 second quarter surge that gave the Blue and White their largest lead of the night at 35-26 headed into the break.
The Fighting Tigers (1-0, 1-0) went on the defensive in the second half, limiting the Blue Devils to just eight points in each of the next two quarters.
IHS, behind eight points from Landen Wilson, made a 19-8 third quarter push and took a slim 45-43 edge headed into the finale.
Zane Loveday capped an 8-6 Gallia Academy run with two free throws with 39 seconds left for a 51-all tie, but an Aaron Masters trifecta from the right wing with four seconds remaining allowed the Orange and Black to secure a 54-51 lead.
GAHS had a good look at a potential game-winner on its ensuing inbounds play, but Carson Call’s 3-point bid bounced off of the back of the rim and fell to the floor as time expired.
The Blue Devils outrebounded the hosts by a sizable 33-21 overall margin, including a 14-7 edge on the offensive glass. The guests also committed a dozen of the 21 turnovers in the contest.
Gallia Academy made 20-of-49 field goal attempts for 41 percent, including a 3-of-14 effort from behind the arc for 21 percent. GAHS also went 8-of-11 at the free throw line for 73 percent.
Clary led the Blue Devils with a double-double effort of 24 points and 13 rebounds, both of which were game-highs.
Loveday was next with 14 points and Franklin added nine markers, while Wesley Saunders and Brody Fellure completed the tally with two points each.
The Fighting Tigers netted 21-of-44 shot attempts for 48 percent, including a 9-of-17 performance from 3-point range for 53 percent. IHS was also 3-of-10 at the charity stripe for 30 percent.
Masters paced Ironton with 21 points, followed by Wilson and Matt Sheridan with 10 markers apiece. Ty Perkins and Braden Schreck respectively added six and five points, while Lincoln Barnes wrapped up the winning tally with two points.
Gallia Academy returns to action Friday when it travels to Coal Grove for an OVC contest at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.