Braves fend off AC comeback for big county win, 58-54
THE GUARD TREATMENTâ€”ACâ€™s Alex Byerly defends Bellmont guard Ryan Okoniewski during Saturdayâ€™s county grudge match. The Braves came out on top 58-54. Byerly and the rest of the Jets were sporting uniforms provided by the armed forces who were honored at the game. (Photo by Kalvin Fiechter)
MONROE— Apparently, football is not the only sport where inches matter.
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Alex Byerly sank a game-tying three-pointer with six seconds to play against visiting Bellmont on Saturday night but had a small part of his heel on the sideline in the process and the shot did not count.
The result was a Braves victory that seemed a lot closer than it could have been at the Hangar in Monroe, 58-54.
Bellmont center Maverick Birch was the recipient of a fast break lay-up to start the fourth and the Braves were up 11 points at 46-35 but that would be the start of the Jets' slow-churning comeback that led to a dramatic finish.
Nick Baumer's only three of the game cut it to single digits and a pair of Alex Byerly free throws made it a six-point contest at 46-40. It would have been down to four but the Braves drew a critical charging call on Baumer shifting the momentum back to Bellmont for a short time.
The Braves down the stretch scored in pace with the Jets but Central's baskets counted for more trimming the lead down. Birch made a pair of freebies followed by sophomore guard David Fox's only shot of the game, a corner three-pointer, to make it 48-43.
Birch would come up big again with two more free throws and Zeser would add another free point before Byerly struck with a triple with under two minutes to play.
After a Birch lay-up, Baumer made a basket plus the foul to cut it to four points. Seth King made one of two free throws, then Hayden Black made a pair on the other end cutting the lead to just three points at 54-51.
Under a minute, Cam Bienz made two free throws for a five-point edge but Blade Kable banked in his third three of the game to cut it to a two-point lead with under 25 seconds to go.
Bienz would make one of two on the other end to lead the door open for Central. A crazy sequence on the other end as time was whittling down occurred as Baumer dished off to Fox for an baseline shot. The Jets would wrangle the rebound and kick it out to Kable who missed a look on the wing. Byerly would chase down the rebound in the corner but as he turned to shoot he stepped out essentially ending the game.
"It just seemed like an awful lot of loose balls went Bellmont's way," AC coach Aaron McClure stated afterwards. "They were a little bit more physical than we were and it took too long for us to adjust to that style of play."
At several different points in the game Bellmont led by double digits but their largest lead of the contest was in the second quarter at 13 points when Parker Zeser made his second triple of the frame for a 29-16 advantage.
The Jets would respond before the halftime break as Kable stroked a three followed by a Baumer put back near the end of the quarter to make it 29-21 at the break.