RIVERSIDE — Whenever Bellbrook and Carroll get together for a nonleague girls high school basketball game, the outcome always seems to come down to a couple key plays and a handful of points. Wednesday’s Dec. 13 battle at Carroll High was no different as visiting Bellbrook claimed an exciting 48-45 win.
There’s something to being the road team in this friendly rivalry. In the six most recent games between the two perennial postseason powers, the visiting team is 6-0. In that span, Bellbrook (4-2) has now won in the three games at Carroll, while the Patriots (4-3) have won the last three times they’ve been in the Golden Eagles’ gym.
This time, Bellbrook’s full-court defense enabled the Eagles to nab a few steals and convert them to quick scores to jump out to an 11-point lead (43-32) with 5:56 left to play. But a 3-pointer from the right corner by Carroll senior guard Marina Stevens pulled the Patriots within eight points with 3:42 left in the contest, then free throws by Jillian Roberts and Stevens, sandwiched around a free throw by Bellbrook’s Jade Midtlien, got Carroll within five points of the lead with just over two minutes still to play.
Stevens hit another jumper with 25 seconds left to pull Carroll within three points at 48-45, and after a missed Bellbrook free throw, Stevens lofted a desperation game-tying try from halfcourt that clanked off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher was pleased with how his team seemed to respond with every run Carroll would throw at his team.
“We’ve been talking about this. There have been some games like this where we really stepped up, and there’s been some games where we’ve shown some weaknesses in that area,” Tincher said. “We’ve made our share of mistakes, me included. But you’ve gotta give Carroll credit. Whenever we play them, it’s like a playoff game.
“Carroll is well-coached, they battle, they play hard until the buzzer. Both teams need that. I think we need each other, because the playoffs in our area is so tough. I think both teams can be proud of their effort. They both played to the final whistle. I’m just very proud of our girls. Every surge that Carroll threw at us, we countered.”
Bellbrook opened the game with an 8-1 lead, but Carroll battled back to take the lead (14-13) midway through the second quarter. And the Golden Eagles countered with 4-0 run to close out the half, good for a 25-22 Bellbrook lead.
Carroll battled back to regain the lead, 30-28, with 3:50 left in the third quarter. This time, Bellbrook went on a 9-0 run to close out the quarter and take a 37-30 lead.
The Eagles extended their lead to 45-34 with just over 4 minutes left in the game, then withstood Carroll’s final rally to claim the win.
Carroll’s Cecilia Grosselin appreciated her team’s effort as well.
“Bellbrook is a great team. They play hard, and they’re very skilled,” she said. “You obviously don’t like to lose, but I’m proud of how hard we played. … We missed some easy shots in the opening quarter that kinda hurt us, but they came back and played well in the end. I couldn’t have asked for them to play any better tonight.”
Both teams get back in action with road games on Saturday Dec. 16. Carroll heads down Interstate 75 to take on Greater Catholic League Co-Ed foe Fenwick for a 1:30 p.m. contest; Bellbrook will also head down I-75. They’ll take on Southwestern Buckeye League foe Monroe at 1:15 p.m.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.