BUFFALO, W.Va. - Any worries Buffalo's basketball program had about losing its distinct homecourt advantage proved unfounded - at least on this night.Levi Jordan tossed in 15 points to pace four players in double-figure scoring Saturday night as the Bison debuted in its spanking-new gymnasium with a 61-43 victory over South Gallia (Ohio).It marked the first game for Buffalo's boys team in its new digs, a school building that opened in August as part of a $56.7 million school bond passed by Putnam County voters in 2009.Bison fans might have been concerned with how their team would play on a regulation 94-foot court after the program competed for 61 years in its decidedly old-school, cramped gym just down the road. Buffalo won 64 of 78 games over the last nine seasons on its tiny floor, affectionately known as "The Barn.''Well, the "New Barn,'' as it's being called, didn't seem to affect the home side on Saturday.Dylan Rich added 11 points for Buffalo and Bradley Harris and Laythen Good tallied 10 each. Isaiah Robinson nearly made it five in twin digits as he scored nine points."The first time out in the new gym, the whole atmosphere - we were a little nervous, I'm sure,'' said Bison coach Chuck Elkins. "But I think we settled down. There was nothing really that I'm concerned about that was really bad.''Buffalo never led by fewer than 10 points over the final 21/2 quarters against the Rebels (1-3), who lost 43-38 to Racine Southern on Friday night.The Bison, often flashing full-court pressure defense, pestered South Gallia into 24 turnovers, 14 of them steals. Robinson led the way with five thefts and Good had three.
"South Gallia played really hard,'' Elkins said, "but they played [Friday] night and got beat in a close game, so I'm sure that was part of it. I have to say they really didn't match up well with us speed-wise.''The game got choppy at times with plenty of missed shots and errant ball-handling.Buffalo shot just 33 percent from the floor, but that was better than the Rebels' 28 percent. The two teams combined to hit only 7 of 41 tries from 3-point range.The Bison committed just five of its 16 turnovers in the first half and had the game seemingly under control with a 34-18 lead. Elkins substituted liberally early in the third quarter, going one long stretch with four backups on the floor - even though his team played without junior regular Aaron Lewis."We're going to try to play a lot of guys,'' Elkins said. "Maybe not as many as we did tonight, but we'll be using at least eight guys in [our rotation].''Brayden Greer headed the Rebels with 11 points and seven rebounds and was his team's lone double-figure scorer. Kody Lambert and Gus Slone scored eight points each.
Buffalo held a sizable 55-30 edge in rebounding, with Harris grabbing nine missed shots, and Jordan and Rich seven apiece.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.