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Chieftains find a way to finish

Bellefontaine rallies in fourth quarter to top Stebbins 44-37

StebbinsBHS

Bellefontaine’s Caleb Mitchell looks to pass the ball to a teammate during Friday’s game at Stebbins. (EXAMINER PHOTO | MATT HAMMOND)

RIVERSIDE — Finishing games has been a problem for Bellefontaine’s boys basketball team this winter. The Chiefs refused to let that be an issue again here Friday night.

In a back-and-forth battle, Bellefontaine saw an eight-point third-quarter lead evaporate and found itself trailing 31-28 with 7:11 remaining.

However, the Chiefs regrouped to go on a 16-6 run for a 44-37 victory in the final Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail division game of the season for both teams.

“I thought the kids did a great job handling themselves in a tough environment,” said Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly. “The composure and poise they showed were key for us down the stretch.”

Bellefontaine improves to 11-10 overall and wraps up CBC KT division play at 4-6.

The Chiefs have struggled recently in Stebbins’ gym, dropping two of their last three contests there.

They were much sharper Friday.

A long three-pointer by A.J. Gorham at the first-half buzzer gave the Chiefs a 22-17 lead at the break.

Bellefontaine pushed its lead to eight points (27-19) early in the third quarter, but Stebbins fought back.

The Indians finished the third period on an 8-1 run to close to within a point at 28-27.

Stebbins then scored the first four points of the final quarter to grab a three-point lead.

Bellefontaine refused to get rattled. Logan Mitchell and Max Oyer each scored inside and Matt Gump drilled a three-pointer to put Bellefontaine up 35-31 with 5:11 left on the clock.

The Indians cut Bellefontaine’s lead to one point on two different occasions in the last four minutes, but the Chiefs did not allow the hosts to go back ahead.

Leading 37-36, Logan Mitchell rebounded a missed Chieftain free throw and scored to give his team a three-point cushion with 59 seconds remaining.

The two teams then each hit one of two attempts at the foul line, leaving Bellefontaine ahead by three at 40-37 with 21 ticks left on the clock.

Stebbins (6-15, 1-9) got a steal and attempted to tie the game with a three-pointer, but the shot bounced off the rim and the ball was corralled by Logan Mitchell with 14.9 seconds remaining.

He was fouled and hit two free throws for a five-point Bellefontaine lead (42-37), and Oyer iced the game with two free throws with 6.2 seconds left.

The Chiefs made their free throws at the end, but finished just 10-of-20 at the foul line for the night.

“We have to do a better job hitting our free throws down the stretch, but overall, this was a good effort and the type of gritty game we needed going into (tonight’s) game against Indian Lake and then into the tournament,” said Stolly.

Logan Mitchell and A.J. Gorham each had nine points to pace the Chiefs. Gump had eight and Oyer and Brett Wisner each added six points.

Trent Lucas led the Indians with a game-high 16 points.

In the junior varsity game, the Indians won 48-41. Daniel Boy and Caleb Mitchell each scored 10 points to lead the Chiefs.

Bellefontaine wraps up the regular season tonight at Indian Lake.

BELLEFONTAINE 44, STEBBINS 37

BELLEFONTAINE (11-10, 4-6)

Gump 3 0-2 8; A. Gorham 2 3-4 9; Oyer 1 4-8 6; C. Mitchell 1 0-0 2; Kennedy 1 0-2 2; Tillman 1 0-0 2; Wisner 3 0-0 6; L. Mitchell 3 3-4 9. Totals: 15 10-20 44.

STEBBINS (6-15, 1-9)

West 4 1-2 12; Thurman 1 4-8 6; Collins 1 0-0 3; Lucas 4 7-8 16. Totals: 10 12-18 37.

Chiefs    6    16    6    16  — 44

Indians    9    8    10    10    —    37

Three pointers: Bellefontaine 4 (Gump 2, A. Gorham 2); Stebbins 5 (West 3, Lucas, Collins).Turnovers: Bellefontaine 13; Stebbins 12. Team fouls: Bellefontaine 10; Stebbins 13.

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