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Lance Vergara's 13 points was not enough to earn a much-needed win at home on senior night against an athletic Bishop Dwenger squad who topped the Braves in a 55-46 decision.
Vergara, the Braves' only senior this season, made several big plays in the second half to keep the home team crowd involved and Bellmont within striking distance. None of that mattered late in the game, however, as both teams struggled to shoot the ball in the fourth quarter and Dwenger, sporting a nine-point lead entering the fourth, held on by the same margin to keep the Braves at four wins, a place they've been since earning their first and only conference win against East Noble on February 2.
Like they have in the last four games, Bellmont came out solidly handling the full-court press and building a lead. Cam Bienz scored a triple to start the game off in the right direction but the Saints would score the next six points to take the advantage. Vergara scored on a drive to stop the run, then hit a three-pointer a few trips later to tie the game at 8-8 mid-way through the first period.
Despite turning the ball over eight times in the opening frame, Bellmont held a 13-12 lead heading into the second quarter. Even with the lead, coach John Baker knew his Braves could be more efficient.
"If we would have saved just a fraction of those possessions we lost who knows how much we would have led, especially after the first quarter. As the game progressed, a lot of the turnovers we had became their first pass in transition leading to easy baskets for the other team."
The Braves balked on the offensive end in the second quarter scoring the game's only single-digit quarter with nine. The Saints took advantage and led at the half, 26-22.
Missing their starting forward, Parker Zeser, may have been part of the culprit on offense in the second as the second unit gave rest to a winded starting group.
"Obviously someone who plays a lot of minutes for us like Parker will be missed in the lineup. It did give an opportunity to players like Logan Baker and Ryan Okoniewski to step up and get some big minutes," praised coach Baker.
Zeser missed the game due to a hip-pointer injury and could be out until Tuesday's sectional round.
The game was tied at 15-15 when the Saints went on a 5-0 run to lead 20-15. Another Vergara three-pointer tied the game at 20-20, then Dwenger scored the next six points, four off of turnovers.
Bellmont had the final possession down six points when Bienz drove the lane and squeezed a pass to Logan Baker and as time expired, the sophomore made a twisting hook shot from under the basket that somehow banked in cutting the deficit to just four points at the break.
Bishop Dwenger had an answer for every shot Bellmont put up in the third outscoring the Braves 18-13 in the frame to push the lead to nine points heading into the final eight minutes.