RACINE, Ohio — They say that the numbers never lie.
Well, some of these numbers didn’t exactly represent the whole truth either.
Despite being outrebounded by more than a 2-to-1 overall margin Friday night, the Eastern boys basketball team was able to rally back from a trio of 13-point second quarter deficits and claim a thrilling 64-60 victory over host Southern in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup of Meigs County programs.
The Eagles (2-19, 2-10 TVC Hocking) were down 18-9 after one period of play and trailed 32-19 with 1:56 left in the first half before the guests made what proved to be a 45-28 charge the rest of the way, including a 7-1 run to close the half for a 33-26 deficit at the break.
The Tornadoes (7-15, 2-10) twice led by nine points in the third stanza, the last of which came on an Aiden Hill offensive putback with 6:40 remaining for a 37-28 advantage.
EHS, however, shot 59 percent from the field after halftime and went 5-of-10 in the third quarter as the visitors made a 15-8 surge over the final 6:15 to close to within a possession at 45-43 headed into the finale.
The Green and White made their first five shot attempts down the stretch and secured a permanent lead on a pair of free throws by Gavin Murphy for a 50-49 edge with 5:09 remaining.
From there, Eastern made a 10-2 run over the next three minutes and secured its largest lead of the night at 60-51 following a Bryce Newland basket.
SHS answered with a 9-2 run and closed the deficit down to 62-60 following a Cruz Brinager putback with seven seconds left in regulation.
Newland, however, sealed the deal by netting two free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining, allowing the Eagles to not only ruin Southern’s Senior Night festivities — but also claim a season sweep in the series. EHS defeated the Tornadoes by a 54-40 count in Tuppers Plains back on Jan. 14.
There were only three ties and five lead changes throughout the course of the game, with both teams holding leads of at least three possessions. Eastern needed a full three quarters to regain the lead after establishing an early 6-3 edge.
Southern — which took its first 13-point lead (28-15) on a Lincoln Rose putback with 3:15 remaining in the first half — made only one 3-pointer early in the first quarter and came up empty on its final 16 trifecta tries.
EHS, conversely, made four of its final five 3-point attempts after missing its first five attempts in the opening canto.
The Purple and Gold outrebounded the guests by a sizable 40-18 overall margin, including an 18-3 edge on the offensive glass. The hosts also committed 10 of their 15 turnovers after the intermission, while EHS had only five of their dozen miscues after the break.
The Eagles made 19-of-38 field goal attempts for 50 percent, including a 4-of-10 effort from behind the arc for 40 percent. Eastern also went 22-of-38 at the free throw line for 58 percent.
EHS had four players reach double figures, with Jace Bullington leading the charge with 16 points. Trey Hill was next with 15 points, while Newland and Connor Nolan respectively added 11 and 10 markers.
Murphy and Brayden O’Brien completed the winning tally with six points apiece. Murphy led the guests with seven rebounds, while Newland hauled in five boards as well.
Southern netted 22-of-58 shot attempts for 38 percent, including a dismal 1-of-18 effort from 3-point territory for six percent. The hosts also sank 14-of-24 charity tosses for 58 percent.
Aiden Hill paced SHS with a double-double effort of 26 points and 15 rebounds, both of which were game-highs. Rose was next with 18 points and 10 caroms, while Cade Anderson added 10 markers.
Brinager and Brayden Otto completed the Tornado tally with four and two points, respectively.
Southern honored seniors Isaac McCarty, Aiden Hill, Tanner Lisle, Cade Anderson and Lincoln Rose before the contest.
Both teams open Division IV postseason play at 7 p.m. Tuesday night as Southern travels to Pike Eastern for a 16-17 sectional semifinal matchup, while Eastern heads to Paint Valley for an 11-22 sectional semifinal contest.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.