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Belpre boys overcome early deficit vs. South Gallia

BELPRE — Belpre didn’t do it the easy way here Friday night, but the Golden Eagles managed to erase an 18-point first-half deficit to rally past South Gallia, 66-63, and sweep the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division season series.

Jaxxon Mabe, who flushed a dunk at the final horn, exploded for a game-high 28 points but the Rebels couldn’t hold a 30-12 lead with 5:30 left in the second after Layne Ours (13 points) scored via a Tristan Saber assist.

Belpre (11-8, 6-4), which welcomes in Waterford for a Saturday afternoon clash, used a Brady Shriver bucket to start the rally.

It was 34-20 after Jordan Harrington scored two of his eight markers. A Tucker Liston deuce was followed by a Cody Daugherty 3 as the hosts cut it to 34-25 with 23 ticks left in the half. However, Mabe’s three-point play put SGHS up a dozen.

Evan Wells, who had a team-high 19 points and was followed by Connor Baker’s 10-point, 11-rebound double-double, opened the third with a lay-in, but Brayden Hammond had consecutive buckets to make it 41-27. Belpre trailed 44-29 after a Mabe 3, but Wells got hot and had a dozen of his counters in the quarter.

Tyce Church came off the bench to score nine points — seven in the fourth — but after he made a tough reverse lay-in Baker followed with an 8-foot floater and the Golden Eagles were within three, 48-45, late in the third. Wells’ two free throws made it 48-47 entering the fourth.

Church’s lay-in and two foul shots put Belpre ahead 51-48 and it was 53-51 following an Ashton Yeater (seven points) lay-in.

“We just came out with the wrong energy and went back in at halftime and decided it was time to fix it and luckily we pulled it off,” admitted Church, who watched the Rebels hold a 23-12 lead after one as Belpre couldn’t solve the half-court trap.

“Yeah, we just couldn’t pull anything off against it. We knew it was going to be there. I knew we all needed to step up so I had to do my part and I was feeling good tonight so it worked out.”

SGHS (9-7 3-5), which plays host Saturday afternoon to Federal Hocking, still led 59-56 with 3:28 to go after Hammond, who had 15 points and grabbed 11 caroms, scored via an Andrew Small assist. Church and Wells then hit 3s just 36 seconds apart and Dylan Cox’s putback allowed Belpre to push ahead 64-59.

“Frustrating is a great word for it to be honest,” said Golden Eagle boss Tyler Leasure, whose squad won the first meeting 58-53 in overtime. “In my tenure here it seems like we really like to get down and play from behind. I don’t know why we don’t decide to get up early and be done with it. We always want to fight back from behind. It’s always one of those games that really sets off my exercise meter on my watch, you know. Heart rate is always up. Movement is always up.

“Really happy with the effort they had in the second half. Totally different basketball team in the second half. Tyce had phenomenal contributions off the bench. It was probably the best game I’ve ever seen him play, just really confident. Evan had big shots, too, and Connor double-doubled. Jordan looked good out there. All of our guys looked great tonight. They were awesome. Everybody who played contributed and did a great job.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com.

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