ST. PARIS – West Liberty-Salem took control in the second quarter and rolled to a 69-54 victory over Graham in non-league boys basketball on Tuesday.
The game was close out of the gate, as the Tigers struggled to make jumpers and Graham was able to pour in a few baskets. But the second quarter belonged to the Tigers, who forced a bunch of turnovers and pushed the tempo to get points at the basket.
“They pressured heavy, and we were able to survive the trap and make a pass or two, and it was just a matter of running the break and getting some scores off it. I thought the guys did a very nice job of that,” WL-S Coach Darrin Leichty said.
In fact, it seemed that when the Tigers weren’t getting to the bucket, Tyler Louden was hitting a corner trey to push his squad further ahead. Louden finished the game with 24 points, with 4 three-pointers. He went to intermission with 14 points and 4 three-pointers.
“West Liberty is a very good team. They have several weapons. And they’ve had several different guys score in the 20s for them,” GHS Coach Julian Grasso said. “They’re a skillful team, so if you make mistakes against them, they’re going to make you pay.”
The halftime score was 29-16, in favor of the visitors.
Graham came storming out the locker room, putting pressure on the WL-S ball handlers in the full court. The Tigers were still able to put points on the board, but Graham closed the period with a little momentum and trailed, 45-35, going to the fourth.
“Clawing from behind like that, when we miss a shot or miss a layup or turn the ball over, we’re exposed on the back end,” Grasso said. “We’re almost gambling trying to make something happen. I’ve got to credit their guys for being smart and taking advantage of our mistakes.”
Graham cut it to a manageable deficit a few times, but the Tigers had an answer each time and held on for the victory.
“They’re one of the highest scoring teams in the CBC, but we were able to hold them to their average,” Leichty said. “We got fatigued a little bit and got careless with it. That’s a time where you’ve just got to dig down and fight through it, maybe get somebody else in there. And they fought through it.”
Louden led the Tigers, with Max Eggleston adding 12 points and Kannon Stillings chipping in 11. Andrew Ford had 24 points for the Falcons, including 6 three-pointers. Chase Adams had 11 points. As a team, Graham made 11 three-pointers.
In the jayvee contest, Graham won, 57-47. Ethan Palmer had 21 points for the Falcons, while Matthew Flora and Jimmy Stickley each added 10. Jack Eggleston had 13 points to lead West Liberty-Salem.
Graham (2-7) hosts Greenon on Friday and Ponitz on Saturday while West Liberty-Salem (5-4) prepares to take on the Cardinals at Triad on Friday in a return to OHC action.
Graham girls fall
VANDALIA – Graham lost to Vandalia Butler, 72-28, in non-league girls basketball.
For the Falcons, Kari Sollenberger had 9 points.
Butler won the jayvee game, 41-40. For Graham, Madi Vanscoy had 16 points and Olivia Burr added 13.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.