BEAVERCREEK — Beavercreek survived a spirited third-quarter rally from Bellbrook and then pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter to escape with a 59-35 win Dec. 30.
The Beavers led by as many as 17 before Bellbrook cut it to two with a 17-6 run in the third quarter. Beavercreek responded with one of the all-time defensive efforts, limiting the Golden Eagles to just one point in the game’s final 9:31, forcing six turnovers during that stretch. While clamping down at one end, Beavercreek (3-7 overall) scored 21 straight points using the fast break, the three-point shot, and a bevy of mid-range jumpers.
The effort was almost complete turnaround from the night before, when Beavercreek gave up 72 to Xenia.
“It’s not Xs and Os,” Beavercreek Coach Mark Hess said. “I really think it’s urgency. Put a little more pressure on the ball. Try to get a little more engaged. It just shows the confidence these kids have in themselves and each other.”
The Beavers were full of confidence early.
A mini-hook by Jayme Johnson got Beavercreek going, and after a Brandon Zink pull-up jumper and back-t0-back three-pointers from Evan Saylor, ‘Creek led 10-0. A fast-break bucket by Adam Graeter that increased the lead to 19-4 forced a Bellbrook timeout with 1:02 left in the first quarter, and a pair of Chris Herbort free throws gave the Beavers a 21-4 lead after one.
Donnie Crouch swished a three-pointer to start the second, and after a Jack Campbell bucket, ‘Creek took a timeout, regrouped and cruised to a 30-17 halftime lead.
“We had plenty of good looks, they weren’t falling,” Bellbrook Coach Donnie Tate said of the first-half action.
Shots finally started for Bellbrook (4-3), which hadn’t played since Dec. 16. Crouch hit a pair of three-pointers and Caleb Scott added one as the Golden Eagles cut the lead to 34-30 with 4:30 left, forcing another ‘Creek timeout. A finger roll by Brayden Walther increased the lead to 36-30, but baskets by Scott and Storm Painter cut it to 36-34 with 2:51 left in the third.
“We obviously challenged our guys (at halftime),” Tate said. “We just made shots. Sparked a little more confidence.”
Yousef Saleh made a basket and a free throw and then a Jon Alessandro step-back three pointer made it 42-35 after three quarters. A free throw from Painter was the last point Bellbrook scored.
“We haven’t played with many 17-point leads,” Hess said. “They got settled in and we just got a little lethargic and they made shots. (But then) we just played a little bit harder. I think it kind of sped them up a little bit.”
Alessandro scored a game-high 12 points, while Walther added 11 and Saylor eight for Beavercreek. Crouch and Scott each had 11 for Bellbrook, while Painter added nine.
Bellbrook hosts Badin Wednesday, Jan. 3, while Beavercreek hosts Fairmont Friday, Jan. 5.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.
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