Belpre knocks off Southern with total team effort
BELPRE — A 20-5 outburst in the opening stanza here Friday night helped propel Belpre to a 70-44 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division triumph versus Southern.
The victory for head coach Tyler Leasure’s squad snapped a three-game losing streak for the Golden Eagles, who improved to 4-6 overall and 2-2 in league action with a 6 p.m. Saturday makeup on tap at South Gallia.
Connor Baker led the way for the hosts with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Evan Wells drained a trio of 3s and tallied 16 markers while Ashton Yeater had 14 points along with game-highs of seven assists and five steals.
Arrow Drummer, who led the Tornadoes with 16 points and eight caroms, scored inside at 6:51 of the first for the game’s only tie at 2-2.
Wells followed with a corner trifecta 12 seconds later, which sparked a 14-0 run. Brady Shriver, who also had eight boards, followed with a deuce for part of his six counters. Baker had two buckets in the run, Yeater had one and Wells canned another 3 via a Jordan Harrington assist.
“I thought the biggest problem we had over the last three games was just effort and getting our guys to come out and play with energy,” admitted coach Leasure, whose defense held SHS to 32% (16 of 50) from the field. “We emphasized that the last few days in practice, even in our huddles. Every conversation we had ended with let’s go out there and keep high energy.
“I thought we had high energy from the start and I think it was really the difference in the game. I think our guys had a fun time. They were smiling. They were laughing and had high energy and they really wanted to be here so that was the biggest difference. I think if we keep that up we can be really dangerous. Hopefully, we continue to do that.”
Yeater had a chance for a three-point play at the end of the quarter, but couldn’t make the foul shot. Belpre actually missed all three of its and-1 chances in the first half, but Baker converted two and Wells one in the third quarter.
Belpre’s Tyce Church came off the bench and scored all seven of his points consecutively in the second to help put Southern in a 31-8 hole with 5:01 remaining in the half. Baker’s 16-foot pull-up jumper with 16 ticks left made it 39-19, but Drummer used a drop step and scored inside via an Aiden Hill assist to close the deficit to 18 at intermission.
Southern (0-8, 0-4), which will play host Tuesday to Federal Hocking, was unable to cut into the deficit during the third quarter and trailed 55-30.
Harrington’s hoop from a Dylan Cox feed had Belpre ahead 66-35 in the fourth and it was 70-37 following consecutive baskets by Tucker Liston.
His final field goal came thanks to a Matthew Deems dime.
The Tornadoes tallied the final seven points thanks to Lincoln Rose and Isaac McCarty makes along with a 3 by Cruz Brinager.
Belpre shot 52.9% (27 of 51) from the field and knocked down 12 of 16 from the charity stripe. The Golden Eagles also finished with a 40-25 edge on the glass and had 17 assists.
“They played really unselfish basketball and really shared the ball,” Leasure said. “I think all-in-all we really got better in all aspects of the game tonight and that’s all you can ask for.”
Contact Jay Bennett at email@example.com