GAS CITY—If you love turnovers, Tuesday night's second game of the class 3A girls basketball sectional at Mississinewa High School between Heritage and Bellmont was right up your alley.
After leading for most of the first period and several minutes into round two, the Squaws made miscue after miscue allowing the Patriots to stay in the hunt. Bellmont committed a whopping 35 turnovers while Heritage responded in kind with 25 boo-boos in the game that finally fell into the Heritage win column by a 61-49 count.
A key play in the game gave the Heritage team a lead they would never forfeit for the rest of the night.
With the Squaws holding onto a tenuous 17-16 edge after Devon Schultz put in a rebound shot to retake the lead, Heritage's Hannah Beckman took over. The Patriot sophomore nailed a shot with 3:47 to play plus a foul. Since Heritage was in the bonus at the time, Beckman made both ends from the charity line and when Heritage swiped the ball from Bellmont about 10 seconds later, the Beckman Show continued as she knocked down a trey.
That 7-0 run within a 13-second span erased not only Bellmont's last lead of the game but put the Pats up by six and when Katie Saalfrank added another trey Heritage had gone from a 15-10 deficit to a 26-17 lead.
Bellmont answered with five consecutive free throws but a traditional three-point play by Maddie Gawtrop and charity line throws by Beckman moved it back to 31-22. Bellmont went into the locker room trailing by six at 33-27 with a little momentum as Amanda Hunter hit a free throw and Audrey Schultz put in a rebound hoop for the last points of the half.
Bellmont got to within five on one occasion in the third period as Brooke Zimmerman hit two from the line to make it 40-35.
Heritage threatened to run away with the game in the final quarter moving to a 48-37 score with 5:10 left but the Squaws made one last run outscoring Heritage 9-2 as Schultz hit a trey, Bailey Christlieb hit back-to-back buckets, and Taylor Kuhnle nailed two free throws putting the Squaws just four points down at 50-46 with 3:28 to play.
Heritage coach John Beckman noted "I thought we had some opportunities there early in the fourth period to keep building our lead but we started throwing the ball away and let Bellmont back in it. In the end for us, though, it was our defense that won the game for us not our offense. Our defense kept us in the game all night long."