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Chieftains continue to come of age

Young BHS squad rallies from 13-point deficit to beat Monarchs

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Bellefontaine’s Shaff Gorham, left, puts up a shot against Marysville’s Billy Kidd during Tuesday’s game at Bellefontaine. (EXAMINER PHOTO | MATT HAMMOND)

If Bellefontaine’s youthful basketball squad continues to play like it has the last two games, both the present and future look bright for the Chiefs.

Playing three sophomores in their starting lineup, Bellefontaine overcame a 13-point first-half deficit to topple visiting Marysville 62-55 on Tuesday in non-league action.

It was the second straight win for the Chiefs (7-5), who were coming off a victory over Stebbins on Friday.

Bellefontaine came into the season expecting a lot out of its sophomore class, and has needed to rely on its youth even more of late with the injuries to senior guard Matt Gump and junior guard A.J. Gorham.

“This group has a no-quit mentality,” said Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly. “They won’t make excuses and they won’t feel sorry for themselves. They will continue to fight and embrace the adversity they have been dealt. That will make us a better team in the long run.”

Bellefontaine was forced to fight an uphill battle Tuesday after falling down 22-12 after one quarter and 27-14 three minutes into the second period.

The Chiefs struggled against the Monarchs’ pressure defense and up-tempo offense. The Monarchs hit Bellefontaine with a full-court press and also did a lot of trapping in the half court.

“We started out a little slow tonight,” said BHS senior center Logan Mitchell, who recorded nine points and seven rebounds. “They pressed us and they stung us with their three-point shooting, but we kept our composure and got our rhythm back.”

Turnovers were a major issue for Bellefontaine during the first half.

“We had nine turnovers in the first half,” said Stolly. “Once we settled down, we took better care of the basketball and we were able to do a much better job of breaking their press. In the second half, we were able to get the ball into the front court and we attacked the basket.”

A three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer gave the Monarchs a nine-point cushion (34-25) at the break.

The second half was a different story.

Bellefontaine embraced Marysville’s desire to play the game at a fast pace. The Chiefs consistently cut through the Monarchs’ press for transition baskets.

The Chiefs outscored the Monarchs 21-8 in the third quarter to bolt ahead 46-42 entering the final period.

Bellefontaine kept the momentum on its side in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 12 points (54-42) with 4:28 remaining.

Marysville cut the Chieftain lead to six points with one minute left on the clock, but Bellefontaine hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to fight off the threat.

The Chiefs were extremely efficient offensively in the second half. They made 14-of-20 shots (70 percent) from the field over the final two quarters.

“We have a lot of offensive weapons and everyone is doing their job right now,” said Mitchell. “With Matt and A.J. being out, we knew we had to have other guys step up. Those two are helping us a lot by telling us what they see on the bench. We are working well as a team right now.”

Sophomore point guard Tristin Tillman was impressive running the Chiefs’ offense. He registered a game-high 19 points, five steals and five assists.

Fellow sophomores Jake Kennedy and Max Oyer contributed 12 points apiece and senior forward Brett Wisner had 10 points in the win.

“Our guys are really starting to trust each other and they are doing a good job finding the open man,” said Stolly. “We are sharing the ball better and that shows with the balanced scoring we have been getting.”

Logan Roston led the Monarchs with 18 points.

In Tuesday’s junior varsity game, Bellefontaine won 45-42. Dorion Hughes scored 14 points and Caleb Mitchell added 12 points for the Chiefs.

Marysville defeated Bellefontaine’s freshman squad 49-34. Jacob Rogan led the Chiefs with 16 points.

Bellefontaine returns to action Friday at Springfield Shawnee.

BELLEFONTAINE 62, MARYSVILLE 55

MARYSVILLE (4-8)

Davisson 2 1-2 5; Hite 2 0-2 4; Kidd 2 0-0 5; Gould 1 0-0 3; Chamblin 3 0-0 7; Roston 7 0-1 18; Romesburg 5 0-0 13. Totals: 22 1-5 55.

BELLEFONTAINE (7-5)

Oyer 2 8-10 12; Kennedy 3 4-5 12; Tillman 9 1-2 19; Wisner 5 0-3 10; L. Mitchell 4 1-2 9. Totals: 23 14-22 62.

Monarchs    22    12    8    13      —     55

Chiefs    12    13    21    16    —    62

Three pointers: Marysville 10 (Roston 4, Romesburg 3, Chamblin, Gould, Kidd); Bellefontaine 2 (Kennedy 2). Rebounds: Bellefontaine 32 (Oyer 9). Assists: Bellefontaine 12 (Oyer 5, Tillman 5). Steals: Bellefontaine 8 (Tillman 5). Turnovers: Bellefontaine 15. Team fouls: Marysville 21; Bellefontaine 7.

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