Belpre boys take down South Gallia, 74-59

STEVE HEMMELGARN The Marietta Times Belpre’s Brandon Simoniette (12) and Bailey Sprague (42) challenge South Gallia’s Braxton Hardy at the rim during a high school boys basketball game Friday.

BELPRE — Host Belpre built up a 21-point lead after the second and third quarters, but then had to quiet a fourth-period comeback try by South Gallia to secure its third boys basketball win by a 74-59 count Friday night.

The Golden Eagles, now 3-6, were paced point-wise by five players in double figures, led by Cole Knotts with 21 including four treys, along with both Brandon Simoniette and Logan Adams with 15 points, and Jerimiah Stitt and Bailey Sprague each with 10. Simoniette also had three treys.

Meanwhile for 1-7 South Gallia, Braxton Hardy netted 18 points, followed by 14 from Curtis Haner, 13 from Eli Ellis and 11 from Austin Day.

The opening quarter saw Belpre go on an early 12-0 run to grab a 12-2 lead and take a 16-8 advantage into the second stanza.

To begin quarter No. 2, the Golden Eagles got a Simoniette trey and two Sprague free throws to go ahead by 13 at 21-8. Then another spurt, this time 8-0 in a span of 1:13, doubled Belpre’s margin to 32-16 with 47.2 seconds left before halftime, which was 36-18 at intermission.

In the third quarter, a Simoniette trey followed by a Knotts 3-ball from the corner and a Sprague foul shot pushed the lead to 46-21 halfway through. But by the end of the period, the Rebels had cut the gap to 56-35.

Still, the lead was at 25 (62-37) on a Knotts’ trey with just 5:38 remaining to be played. But then Ellis and Day took over for South Gallia and narrowed the deficit down to 15, followed by Hardy with a trey and two charity tosses to close to within 13 at 66-52 at 2:27.

A Haner trey and layup on a break further cut into the Belpre lead at 66-57 with just 1:26 left. Then, though, two Adams foul shots and a Nate Godfrey-to-Knotts pass for a layup at 49.2 seconds boosted Belpre back ahead by 13 at 70-57 to pretty much finish saving the day for the Golden Eagles.

“We did really what we wanted to do tonight for about 28 minutes,” said Belpre head coach Tyler Leasure. “We just kind of lost our intensity a little bit in those last five minutes.

“But I think there were a lot of positives tonight — our offense looked really good, we got a lot of good open shots and shared the ball with each other.”

When the game got close nearing the end, “it made me a little nervous,” said Leasure. “But we’ve got faith in our guys. If we just keep our intensity and keep playing hard, I think we can continue to compete and win some more ball games.”