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Williams scores 30 in Belpre win over South Gallia

Belpre’s Khyleigh Scott stares down her defender, South Gallia’s Tori Triplett (3) during the Golden Eagles’ 65-50 win over the Rebels on Monday. (Photo by Josh Hughes)

BELPRE — A dominant first half from Belpre’s top scorers created enough distance as the Golden Eagles soared back to the .500-mark with a 65-50 victory over visiting Souh Gallia on Monday night.

Halee Williams did plenty of damage to the Rebels with her 30-point, 13 rebound performance.

The Golden Eagles (8-8) lived in the paint and used their size to reel off plenty of points in a 33-8 first-half run. South Gallia’s scoring woes started early, as Belpre head coach Chris Murray’s defense came to play. Buckets from Curstin Giffin, Williams and Kaitlen Bush created the deficit in the first quarter, and the Rebels’ attempts at getting back in the contest came too late.

The final basket of the opening eight minutes came when Bush went coast-to-coast and slashed through defenders to score a layup with 26 seconds left. Meanwhile, SGHS hadn’t scored since a Tori Triplett basket made it 7-6 Belpre at the 4:25 mark. Little did the visitors know, their troubles were only going to be amplified to round out the half. That trio of Williams, Giffin and Bush provided most of the scoring in the frame, and Khyleigh Scott joined in on the fun with one of her baskets coming late in the quarter. Giffin tallied 15 points in the win, and Bush joined them in double-figures with 13.

South Gallia’s only reprieve of the half came with 25 seconds remaining, when Jessie Rutt hit a shot to close the half. It was one that got away from the Rebels, as coach Murray praised his team’s complete effort on the night.

When we went there (to play South Gallia on Dec. 14), I thought we didn’t play very well there,” he said of his team’s performance in a 60-39 loss. “I thought we came out with great intensity, tonight. We knew that they had some shooters, so we just wanted to get out on their shooters and match their intensity on the defensive end, and just push in transition. I think we replicated our first half and our second half, where we scored a similar amount of points. Offensive efficiency was rather consistent, but we went on a run in the the first half that was able to carry us throughout the course of that game.”

With the Birds and Rebels splitting the season series, it’ll be the last time BHS will have to contend with South Gallia’s Rutt in the regular season.

Coming into this season, the senior guard needed to average 12 points per game to reach 1,000 points for her high school career.

Her shooting from beyond the arc helped her team pull a bit closer, as her 22 points led all Rebel scorers.

Entering the fourth, Belpre held a 45-19 advantage, but 14 of Rutt’s points came in the final frame. In total, SGHS outscored Belpre 31-20 in the last eight minutes.

However, Belpre’s advantage was far too big to overcome. The closest this game got in the second half was 60-50 with 43 seconds remaining, and three Williams makes at the free throw line helped stretch the lead out just a bit more. Bush capped off the big night with a layup in transition, as South Gallia was attempting to foul.

Coach Murray likes how his team is responding. He believes some winnable games late in this season will help put his girls where they need to be, when it matters most.

“Halee Williams probably had her best game of the season, tonight. She was locked in,” he said. “I got on her a bit in practice, and I thought she really responded. I thought we did a great job on the inside. That’s what opened it up for us, was us just finishing inside. When (South Gallia) wasn’t hitting from the outside, we were able to convert. We started the season without Kaitlen, and we started at 1-4. For us to be 7-4 in our last 11, it’s a good growth of our freshmen. We’ve played a good schedule, and we’ve been competitive in our league and out of the conference. I’m really happy with 8-8 and where we’re headed. We have some winnable games towards the end of our schedule, and we’re going to have to work really hard to get ready for the tournament.”

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