It’s a big week for the Galion boys basketball team.
Coming off a 46-41 victory against Marion Harding in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action Thursday night, the Tigers (7-3, 3-3 MOAC) plan to keep the momentum going in light of its mixed performance halfway through the season.
The team had some setbacks with conference losses against Buckeye Valley, Jonathan Alder and Pleasant. Before the end of 2015, Galion scored league wins over Fairbanks and North Union, on top of defeating all of its non-conference opponents.
“For the season, we’re not exactly where we want to be,” said Galion senior Houston Blair, during Wednesday’s practice. “We want to get 8-3 after we win these next two,” games with Marion Harding and River Valley (5-4, 2-2 MOAC) on Saturday.
Last season, the Vikings defeated Galion 73-61 in January, and 58-51 in February.
After missing four games because ankle sprain injury, Gavin Ratcliff was back in action for the Marion Harding game and is excited for the River Valley game.
“They got one of the best players in the MOAC with Danyon Hempy,” he said.
At 6 feet 4 inches tall, Hempy has averaged 29 points in the past five games with a total of 145 points as of Friday.
“We just need to figure out a way to contain him,” Galion boys basketball head coach Colby Bright said.
“We just have to hustle and play a hard game as a whole team and not just a couple players,” said Galion senior Colton Moore.
During the Marion Harding game, the Tigers had an 11-9 lead in the first quarter.
“We were able to get some of their key guys in the first half in foul trouble,” Bright said after the game.
But his team was unable to take advantage of its opponents mishaps and headed to the locker room trailing the Presidents 22-20 at halftime.
Galion made 13 of 45 shots and 17 of 22 free throws, while Marion Harding made 16 of 49 shots and 5 of 6 charity shots.
“We control our own destiny in the second half,” Bright said. “I give our guys credit. They went out there and build a lead and able to hang on and hit some clutch free throws at the end.”
The Tigers defeated the Presidents in the second half 26-19. Galion built up a 4-0 run to surpass Marion Harding 40-33 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers had 35 rebounds and 16 turnovers, while the Presidents had 23 rebounds and 13 turnovers.
“They’re a strong rebound team,” said Marion Harding boys basketball head coach Donald Worstell. “Houston Blair is a very nice player (and) point guard as well.”
Houston Blair led the Tigers with 15 points including a 3-pointer and making 8 of 10 free throws. Kalvin Rinehart added 10 points, while Colton Moore tallied 9 points.
Tyler Longstreth led the Presidents with 13 points, while Bryce Starner added nine points including a 3-pointer, and Roger Harmon tallied eight.
Bright said the team will work on its shooting but it’s important for them not to get complacent this season.
“We can’t be satisfied with getting a couple victories in a row,” he said. “We got to continue to be hungry and see the big picture.”
Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.