The Galion boys basketball team added its third home buzzer-defeat for the season with a 50-49 loss to conference rival River Valley on Saturday.
The Tigers closely trailed the Vikings 23-21 at halftime. River Valley gain momentum in the third quarter, increasing the lead with its dynamic defense.
“They changed their defenses a lot,” said Galion boys basketball head coach Colby Bright. “And we just stayed stagnant. We were never able to get into a rhythm or any type of flow.”
The Tigers narrowly won the second half of the game 28-27. The team had mixed results with its strategy to contain Vikings senior Danyon Hempy, the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference’s top scorer with an average of 29 points. The Tigers doubled up on Hempy, who depended on his team to win the game.
Hempy led his team with just 16 points including two 3-pointers. He got help from Hayden Wallace and Jax Harville who added 10 points each. Harville also scored the winning shot with 10 seconds left on the clock.
“Danyon did a real nice job to the very last play of the game of distributing the ball,” River Valley boys basketball head coach Steve Comstock said. “(Galion) did good defense on Danyon but I think Danyon kind of changed his role tonight.”
“I think Colton (Moore) and (Houston Blair) – they did a very good job on him; made it tough on him,” he said. “But the good thing Hempy did is he created for his team. So even though he didn’t score a lot, he garnered a lot of attention, which allowed some of the guys to get open and hit some easy shots.”
The Tigers made 20 shots and 5 of 8 free throws, while the Vikings (5-4, 3-2 MOAC) made 20 shots and 6 of 8 free throws.
“It’s a great win for us because we really have a lot of respect for Galion,” Comstock said. “They got a really nice team and they’re well coached.”
Blair led the Tigers with a game high of 21 points, while Moore, Gavin Ratcliffe and Kalvin Rinehart added eight points each. Ratcliffe scored the shot that helped the Tigers have its short-lived 49-48 lead – the only time the Tigers surpassed the Vikings.
The roughness of the game heightened in the fourth quarter after Moore left the game temporarily for an apparent leg injury after stealing the ball to score. Blair also took a hit in the game but was able to shake it off. Foul trouble forced him out with Moore taking his place.
Even Bright was slightly taken aback when he saw some minor tears in Blair’s uniform after the game.
“They’ll be okay,” he said. “We got a couple days to recover.”
The junior varsity foreshadow the intensity of Saturday nights heartbreaker with the Tigers losing 57-53 in overtime.
Galion (7-4, 3-4 MOAC) will host to play Bucyrus in non-league play on Tuesday.
“We can get back in it, get a little redemption and feel better about ourselves,” Bright said. “I told them, ‘we lost three games at the buzzer, so we’re very close to being 10 and 1.’”
For now, the latest loss will be another learning experience for the team, while building them for the postseason.
“I’ll be glad to get out of this gym and stay on the road,” he said. “We lost three… right at the end here. And we’re undefeated on the road. We like the road.”
Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.