GALION — Thursday evening was a great time to be a Tiger.
The Galion boys basketball team defeated Clear Fork 55-46 to snap a 35-game losing skid that dates back to the 2019-2020 season.
“It means we’re going in the right direction,” an excited Galion head coach Ryan Stover said after his first win in charge of the Tigers. “Those kids who played tonight and the entire program, they bought in. We executed, we made shots down the stretch and our kids were confident.”
Hudson Miller had a career night with 26 points, each and every one of those buckets were huge for the Tigers.
“If anybody wants to step up, then step up, but Hudson was up for task tonight,” Stover said. “You could see the look in his eyes that he was ready from the get-go. We rode him and he carried us.”
The game was very competitive from the start and stayed competitive to the end. After a quarter, Clear Fork led Galion, 10-9. Colts big man Kaden Riddle scored seven points in the opening quarter, but picked up two fouls that forced him to sit majority of the second quarter. He had nine points in the first half.
Galion turned it up a notch defensively in the second quarter, which led to transition opportunities. The Tigers led the Colts 24-19 at the half thanks to a big three-pointer at the buzzer by Miller. He had 11 points in the first half followed by Rece Payne with six points.
“When I took over the job (improving the defense) was the first priority,” Stover said. “We wanted to get more physical and take over the basketball. Let our defense dictate our offense. Tonight we played physical we played hard and we played fast.”
Miller came alive again in the third quarter for the Tigers. The senior added 10 points in the quarter to give Galion a 37-28 lead heading into the final eight minutes. Riddle added nine in the quarter to keep the Colts in the contest.
In the final eight minutes, the Colts pulled to within four points before Galion’s Jaxon Oswald and Miller both hit tough shots to again make it a nine-point lead for the Tigers.
The Tigers were able to close it out at the free throw line for a very big win. Oswald led the way in the final quarter with seven huge points. Payne forced a couple of big turnovers that made a difference.
Oswald finished with 13 points and nailed a trio of three-pointers for the Tigers. Payne and Garrett Ison each added eight points for Galion as well.
Despite the loss, Riddle was very good for the Colts and led the way with 20 points.
“Give him credit, the big guy played very well tonight for Clear Fork,” Stover admitted.
Adam Vanausdle added seven points for Clear Fork.
Prior to Thursday’s victory, Galion’s last win occurred on Jan. 14, 2020, when the Tigers defeated Mount Gilead, 61-51.
Galion (1-2, 1-1 Mid Ohio Athletic Conference) will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Shelby.
Clear Fork (0-4, 0-2 MOAC) will travel to nearby Ontario on Saturday for a showdown at the O-Rena.