By John Bombatch
BELLBROOK — Visiting Oakwood grabbed a big halftime lead, nearly lost it all, then finished with a flurry to defeat Southwestern Buckeye League, Southwestern Division rival Bellbrook, Tuesday night on the Golden Eagles’ home floor.
With the win, the Lumberjacks and Franklin (assuming the Wildcats defeated last-place Brookville on Tuesday) remain tied for first place in the SWBL’s Southwestern Division with 8-3 records. Oakwood, 16-5 overall, has now won four straight and will close out its season Friday with a home game against a team that had beat them earlier this season, third-place Monroe.
Oakwood coach Paul Stone said it wasn’t a matter of losing focus during the ‘Jack’s six-point third quarter. Bellbrook just did its best to shut down center Michael Hoecht.
“We have the ball and Bellbrook had three guys on Michael Hoecht. He missed a few bunnies in there down low, probably got fouled a few times that weren’t called, but we just have to live with that,” Stone said. “If we don’t get a shot, we don’t pout. We just go back and play defense.”
There was no pouting when Bellbrook, which trailed 30-16 at halftime, pulled to within five points of the lead when “Snow” Storm Painter drained a 3-pointer from the left side. That tally made the score 38-33 in favor of Oakwood with 5:40 left to play.
No pouting at all.
Instead, Oakwood reeled off a two minute and 38 second 10-1 run to re-establish firm control of the lead at 48-34.
“I challenged them at halftime, and I thought we did a much better job defensively in the second half. Oakwood was picking us apart in the first half,” Bellbrook coach Perry Caldwell said. “(In the second half), I thought we had some chances, but we had a few open threes that just wouldn’t fall in for us.”
Ethan Savey led Bellbrook (6-15, 4-7 SWBL Southwestern) with 11 points, eight of which came in the second half. John Bush and Painter finished with nine each and Trent Nartker tossed in eight.
Nartker, Brady Tincher, Bush and Ryan Everidge were recognized during Senior Night festivities prior to the game.
Oakwood’s Hoecht led all scorers with 15 points scored, Connor Dinkler added 14 and Brendan Talarczyk finished with 10.
Caldwell remained encouraged by how his Eagles were able to battle back against a solid Lumberjacks squad.
“Oakwood is a good team. They do good things. Minus that slow start we had, where we had a group of guys playing together who didn’t have a whole lot of experience in playing together (the four seniors and sophomore guard Donnie Crouch started the game), I thought we bounced back,” Caldwell said.
Bellbrook wraps up its regular season schedule Friday when they’ll host Brookville for a 7:15 p.m. contest. The Golden Eagles then will open Division II sectional tournament play Saturday, Feb. 20 at Kettering’s Trent Arena, where they’ll play Middletown Madison.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.