KETTERING — Neither the cold weather nor the Oakwood defense could cool down the hot Golden Eagles, Friday night as Bellbrook (5-1, 4-0 Southwestern Buckeye League, Southwestern) continued its excellent play this year, beating the Lumberjacks (2-5, 0-3 SWBL Southwestern), 65-47, at the Pit.
The game started with both teams testing the waters and firing from outside, with little success. Both teams combined to attempt nine shots from the perimeter in the first quarter, with Bellbrook senior guard Tom Krohn making the only one. The Golden Eagles started to pick up the pace after some initial jump shots, and attacked the rim in transition. Oakwood was forced to call a timeout with just over two minutes left in the first quarter, down 11-1.
Bellbrook coach Perry Caldwell said he like his team’s pace of play and ability to turn defense into offense.
“I thought we shot the ball really well,” he said. “The tempo was more to our pace than to their pace. They wanted to slow it down a little bit. We challenged our guys to try and play defense without fouling, and I thought we contested a lot of their shots. Rebounding became the key on both ends.”
Ultimately, Oakwood’s biggest issue was their inability to make shots. The Lumberjacks were getting good looks, but they weren’t dropping. Despite going on a little run before the half, they were still down, 29-18, at the break.
Bellbrook’s offense shot 44.8 percent on the night, with three seniors scoring the majority of their team’s points. Krohn had 17 in the contest and 12 in the first half. Guard Josh Schumacher had 19 points in the game, including some big and-one baskets in the second half. Forward Tyler Everidge was also able to contribute with 15 points. Caldwell thought that practice really helped prepare Bellbrook for the matchup.
“We thought they were going to play a lot of zone. We really repped out our zone stuff a bunch but, once we had a lead, we made them play man,” he said. “We spread the court on them and tried to make them guard us in space. I felt like that led to some good looks from us.”
In the second half, Oakwood was hanging with the Golden Eagles, keeping the deficit around eight points. Fueled by senior guard Max Banke’s penetration to the basket and forward Grant Pepper’s suddenly hot shooting touch, the Lumberjacks went on a run and cut the lead to 37-33 with just under three minutes left in the third quarter.
The comeback was cut short, however, when Schumacher made a layup and was fouled. Bellbrook went on a 12-0 run that finished out the third quarter and went into the fourth. The score was 54-40 in favor of the Eagles halfway through the final quarter, and that would be it for the home team.
Caldwell credits his defense for getting things back in control.
“Defensively, we really wanted to try and contest Pepper. Pepper only had two at halftime, he ended up having three threes in the second half. He’s their leading scorer,” he said. “I thought Banke did a good job at getting to the rim, and then the other guys we just wanted to challenge them and make it difficult for them to score.”
There will be no rest for Bellbrook, as they stay on the road and face conference rivals Franklin, and SWBL standout Luke Kennard, at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at Franklin High School.