CLAYTON — Coming into Monday’s contest at Northmont High School, Bellbrook girls basketball coach Jason Tincher expressed concerns that his team hadn’t seen a full-court press or the zone defense very often. Such concerns proved their merit early on as the Lady Golden Eagles turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and trailed by four points at halftime.
A keen eye at the free-throw line nullified those problems, however, as Bellbrook eventually rolled to a 52-37 win.
“They were winning the philosophy battle of the game,” Tincher said of the Lady Bolts. “They’re not as tall as us, they’re quicker than we were, and so they were playing in their game and we were allowing them to. We wouldn’t have much composure, we were throwing the ball away and they were stealing it and converting. And so we just said, ‘we need to break their press, make them play some defense, get the ball down there, keep our composure and and we’ll be fine.’ ”
In the third quarter and start of the fourth, Bellbrook turned it over six more times and allowed the Lady Bolts to stay within one possession until Madi Hofacker found Emily Smith in the paint for a layup that put the Lady Golden Eagles up for good. Bellbrook sealed the victory by going to the free throw line eight times and hitting 14 of 17 free throws to pull away.
Bellbrook (13-4) finished with 20 total turnovers, but forced the mistake prone Lady Bolts to turn the ball over 24 times. Bellbrook also managed to force Northmont’s Sierra Sanders, who had hit four 3-pointers in the first three quarters, to miss all of her shots in the final quarter.
The Lady Golden Eagles converted on 21 of 25 free throw attempts in the contest, and the Lady Bolts only went to the line three times in the second half and missed all of them.
“That changed the game,” said Northmont coach Virgil Carter. “Like I told my girls, a lot of the stuff that happened tonight was our own self inflicted wounds. We turned the ball over 24 times, we don’t box out, give them some easy ones, and then we don’t look to score. I mean like 21 of 27 from the free-throw line, they shot I think 26 free throws in the second half, a lot of games go like that.”
Bellbrook was led by Chea Taylor, who scored 17 points along with six rebounds and four steals. Taylor was also responsible for four of the 14 free throws down the stretch.
“We just kept our composure,” said Taylor about the difference in the fourth quarter. “We were fast paced the whole first half and third quarter it was a little bit that way. So (in the) fourth quarter, we needed to just calm down and play basketball.”
Smith scored 11 points along with five rebounds. Hofacker added 10 points and Lexie Seger finished with eight points.
The Lady Bolts were led by Kaitlyn Maas and Sierra Sanders, who each scored nine points. Doriann Carter finished with seven points and Denissa Sly scored five points.
Xenia vs. Bellbrook tonight: The boys high school basketball game between Xenia and Bellbrook, originally scheduled for Tuesday night, has been rescheduled for tonight in Bellbrook High School.