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Garrett center Matt Singleton blocked a shot and sank a pair of free throws late in the fourth quarter to steal a win at the Teepee against Bellmont Wednesday night 45-42.
Bellmont, 1-2 on the year, defeated Whitko on December 7 but after the Heritage game was cancelled Saturday, the Braves have had a week and a half to stew before getting on the hardwood competitively.
Against the Railroaders (4-1), the Braves seemed to suffer from that flatness missing their first five shots on their way to a 1-11 effort from the floor and a 10-3 deficit.
Parker Zeser's triple early in the period made it 3-2 Braves but Garrett rallied eight straight points the rest of the quarter led by Justin McCoy who had six of the points.
"We're always going to look at what we could have done at the end of the game but I felt like it was how we started," noted BHS coach John Baker. "Anytime you have three points in a quarter it's going to be hard to win. We've got to get a better start to win these games."
While the Braves had their struggles, their saving grace was that the Railroaders fared no better shooting 5-14 in the quarter, McCoy a slow 3-8 in the frame.
In the second, Bellmont had much better success. McCoy's free throws at the 3:36 mark were the first for either team in the game and it made the score 15-7 after Seth King knocked down a jumper and stole a pass for an easy lay-up.
The Braves scored the final 10 points of the quarter starting with a free throw by Zeser, then an uncontested three at the top of the key on their next possession for the junior making it 15-13. Cameron Bienz made a lay-up off of a turnover to tie the game and Jake Hall's lob into Maverick Birch made it 17-15 at the half.
"It was nice to see us claw back from that nine-point deficit," praised Baker. "That was due to our spacing the floor and pushing the ball in transition."
The Braves turned in a better shooting performance in the second shooting 6-12 from the field, while the Railroaders regressed to a frustrating 1-12 in the second half.
The lead would grow for the Braves to 24-18 thanks to another Zeser triple and lay-up capping off a 19-4 run dating back to early in the second quarter.
Andrea Rosati ripped a three from the corner to cut the lead in half at 24-21 and the teams remained close throughout the third frame. With Bellmont down 27-26, Bienz took off knocking down a lay-up plus a free throw shot on a foul, then an open three-pointer would go down putting the Braves back up by five at 32-27.
An offensive rebound by Singleton and a bank shot at the buzzer cut the lead to three before the third quarter.
Coach Baker was frustrated with the Braves rebounding troubles in the game. The Railroaders outrebounded Bellmont 30-19 in the game. "We talked about rebounding. It's all about focus and effort. If we're going to get outrebounded by this team tonight than what are we going to do against the New Havens and Carrolls on our schedule who have formidable size in the post."
Bellmont led 39-35 with two minutes to play but back-to-back difficult jumpers from McCoy tied the game at 39-39.
"We knew going into the game that he was their go-to offensive weapon," Baker explained. "Overall defensively we did a good job to frustrate him but to his credit he got going a little bit in the second half."
The Railroaders took the lead on a pair of free throws from Jared Estep but the Braves tied the score, then took the lead when Birch hit one of two from the foul line making it 42-41. The Braves missed an opportunity to extend the lead a few minutes earlier missing the front end of a one-and-one.
"The big stat of the game was that they were 12-14 from the free throw line and we were 6-11," noted Baker. "We missed a few bonus free throws and that's a hard pill to swallow because we're normally a good shooting free throw team."
Karsten Cooper's drive to the basket made it 43-42 with under 30 seconds and after some ball movement the Braves were down to under 10 seconds. The senior was 0-5 from the field before making his only shot of the game.