GALION — Opening a new season against a ballclub that lost only one game in 2019-2020, won its conference, and reached the OHSAA Division II regional semifinals is a tall order.
And Galion boys head basketball coach Bobby Gossom knew it would be a difficult early assignment for his Tigers team that’s in the middle of a building process.
“It was a tough match-up,” Gossom said following Galion’s 64-47 loss to Upper Sandusky on Wednesday. “They’re a good team. I know they lost a lot and people probably write them off a little bit, but they’ve got some good kids back, and they’re big and they’re physical, and we’re undersized. Hanif (Donaldson) battled and Brayden (Eckels) battled and Caleb (Branstetter) battled. It was a tough match-up for Brayden because he’s a kid who’s only played basketball for two years. Hanif took last year off, so he’s still getting back into the flow of things.
“Our guards are young and inexperienced and need to take better care of the ball, but there were flashes of some good things at times. We just need to be more consistent.”
Donaldson led Galion with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He also had a steal and a blocked shot.
Junior guard Rece Payne connected on three 3-point shots and finished with 11 points. Junior Hudson Miller hit two 3-pointers and finished with six points.
Senior Troy Manring and junior Kyle Foust each had six points. Junior Andy Sparks scored four points and junior Jaxon Oswald added two points.
The Tigers knocked down five treys total and finished 4-for-6 at the free throw line. The Tigers committed 19 turnovers.
After falling behind 9-0 to start the game, Galion cut the deficit to three points (26-23) in the second period and four points on three occasions — 24-20 in the second, 33-29 and 35-31, respectively, in the third period — before the Rams pulled away for good.
Gossom said he was proud of how scrappy and physical the Tigers played, especially given the fact that the team didn’t have many opportunities to work out together during the preseason due to members being quarantined at times because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We’ve had so many guys in and out. We haven’t had a full squad,” Gossom said. “We had the entire JV and varsity teams quarantined for two weeks. … We had four practices to prepare and we were trying to shake off the Thanksgiving break and two weeks off. We’ve just got to go harder in practice. Like I said, there were flashes of things that we liked. We’ve got to be more patient with our offense. I thought we were pretty gritty on the defensive end. We got after it.”
Senior Cade Adams led the Rams with 18 points, all of which came on the six 3-point shots he hit. He scored 15 points during an 18-4 Rams run in the third period that broke the game open after Galion had pulled to within four points at 35-31 midway through the quarter.
Adams suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter, but continued to play, Rams head coach Jeff Winslow said after the game. Adams aggravated the injury in the third period, at which time he went to the bench and did not return. Winslow said he didn’t know the extent of Adams’ injury.
Upper Sandusky senior post player Gavin Carey tallied 13 points and eight rebounds, and junior big man Trent Beamer added 11 points and two blocked shots.
The Rams finished with 10 made 3-pointers, but managed to hit just 6-of-18 free throw attempts. Upper Sandusky committed 17 turnovers.
Winslow said he was just grateful for the opportunity to play a basketball game again.
“It was nice just to get out and play, get your feet wet, see what you need to improve on, and just get some jitters out,” Winslow said. “Overall, I was pretty happy with how everything went. We really only had five practices coming into this and there’s lots we need to correct, but it’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve got some guys out, we’ve got some injuries, so we just need to get back in the gym and work on some of the things we need to and I can’t wait to do that.”
Galion (0-1) travels to River Valley (2-1, 1-0 MOAC) on Friday to kick off Mid Ohio Athletic Conference play for 2020-2021.
Upper Sandusky (1-0) begins defense of its 2019-2020 Northern 10 Athletic Conference crown on Saturday at Wynford (0-1).
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