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Free throws were the key to the game for Bellmont in both winning and nearly losing to Heritage on Friday night as the Braves held on to a 62-58 overtime victory over the visiting Pats.
"We're pleased with getting a win," noted Bellmont coach John Baker whose team improved to 3-4 on the season with the victory. "There is no such thing as a bad win. With that said we made things more interesting than they should have been. Taking care of the basketball and sinking free throws and it wouldn't have gone to OT."
The Braves led with 4:30 to play in the fourth quarter after Cam Bienz' three-pointer made it 51-46 but then Bellmont would go on a serious drought not scoring a single point the rest of regulation.
Heritage slowly but surely made their way back thanks to the aggressive play of Aaron Horne who scored eight of his game-high 23 points in the final frame was 4-4 from the foul line in the quarter. The Patriots did not do themselves any favors, however, as they shot 2-12 from the field in the fourth quarter relying on a perfect 8-8 from the line to send the game to overtime.
The Braves had several opportunities to win in regulation including under a minute to play when Bienz missed the front end of a bonus foul shot. Parker Zeser was fouled with four seconds to play driving to the hoop but missed both of his freebies and the game went to extra minutes.
Bellmont, normally a solid free throw shooting squad, made amends in the overtime shooting 7-11 from the charity stripe.
After Maverick Birch hit one of two from the line after a foul to put Bellmont up a point, the Pats made a quick shot on the other end followed by Jake Hall with a 10-footer to give the Braves the lead back at 54-53.
The teams traded one of two from the line and a few plays later Birch got the ball in good position to score easily over the shorter defender for a three-point lead. The senior center would stroke two more free throws next time down to make it 60-54.
"Maverick made several good post moves with a solid base and making some big shots," praised Baker. "He did that against AC too and so we're expecting that kind of effort from him."
With Bradley Scott fouling out in regulation as did Branson Dossen at guard, the Patriots could do little to stop Bellmont on the inside. It became a free throw game in the final minute as Bienz stroked a pair for the six-point lead again at 62-56 after Horne muscled his way in for his last basket.
Heritage managed a two-pointer as time expired on a driving lay-up from Adam Beard but Bellmont's solid hands on the offensive end and free throw shooting kept the game out of reach.
"Heritage is always a tough match-up for us but I felt like our guys rose to the challenge tonight," noted Baker. "There were times when we left our feet in the game but for the most part I felt like we stayed our ground and moved our feet well on defense. They shot the ball well from the free throw line (15-21) but we just hit the ones that mattered late."