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Chieftains hush Bulldogs in tourney opener

TROY — Although taking a first-round bye in the sectional tournament provides a team some needed rest after the grind of the regular season, Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly prefers to play right away.

Bellefontaine’s Michael Bean rises for a shot during the first half of Saturday’s Division II sectional tournament game against Milton-Union at Troy High School.
Bellefontaine’s Michael Bean rises for a shot during the first half of Saturday’s Division II sectional tournament game against Milton-Union at Troy High School.

EXAMINER PHOTO | MATT HAMMOND

“I’ve always liked to play that first time out,” said Stolly after the Chiefs cruised to a 58-40 win over Milton-Union in a Division II sectional opener here Saturday. “I think playing (a first-round game) can help get rid of some of the nerves and tightness associated with playing in the tournament.

“It’s nice to get that first win and, hopefully, this gives us some confidence going into Wednesday’s game.”

The Chiefs (12-9) advance to play Kenton Ridge at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the sectional semifinal at Troy High School. Kenton Ridge had a bye in the first round.

Bellefontaine refused to let the Bulldogs (4-17) build any confidence. The Chiefs never trailed in the game. They led 16-11 at the end of the first quarter and 28-17 at halftime.

“I thought our shooting was a big key in the first half,” said Stolly. “Getting off to a good start on a floor we are not used to was very important for us.”

Bellefontaine ran its lead to 17 (45-28) at the end of the third quarter. The Chiefs were not seriously threatened in the final quarter.

“For the most part, it was a pretty consistent effort from start to finish,” said Stolly. “We did have a little bit of a stretch before halftime where we turned the ball over some, but we did a better job handling the ball in the second half.”

The Chiefs had 10 turnovers in the first half, but only two in the second half.

Chris Lowe scored a game-high 16 points to lead a balanced charge for the Chiefs. Que Carter had 14 points, Brock Mitchell tallied 10 points and Nate Dodds had nine.

“I thought our kids shared the ball well,” said Stolly. “They did a good job of finding the open guy.”

Defensively, Bellefontaine shut down Milton-Union standout guard Nikko Johnson. The Bulldogs’ leading scorer in the regular season, Johnson came in averaging 13 points per contest. The Chiefs held him to one field goal and a total of four points.

“We knew we needed to know where he was out there,” said Stolly. “He is a big, strong kid that is very talented. He was maybe off a little, but I thought we did a good job of contesting his shots.”

Zach Smith led the Bulldogs with 11 points.

BELLEFONTAINE 58, MILTON-UNION 40

MILTON-UNION (4-17) McCoy 3 0-0 9; Johnson 1 2-4 4; Smith 4 0-0 11; T. Warner 2 1-2 5; C. Warner 1 1-2 3; Mason 2 0-0 4; Stephenson 2 0-0 4. Totals: 15 4-8 40.
BELLEFONTAINE (12-9) Baughman 1 0-0 2; Conaway 1 0-0 2; Carter 5 3-7 14; Dodds 2 4-4 9; Mitchell 4 1-1 10; Lowe 7 2-3 16; Bean 2 1-2 5. Totals: 22 11-17 58.

Bulldogs 11 6 11 12 — 40
Chiefs 16 12 17 13 — 58

Three pointers: Milton-Union 6 (McCoy 3, Smith 3); Bellefontaine 3 (Carter, Dodds, Mitchell).
Rebounds: Milton-Union 17; Bellefontaine 23 (Dodds 6).
Assists: Bellefontaine 7.
Steals: Bellefontaine 9 (Dodds 6).
Turnovers: Milton-Union 13; Bellefontaine 12.
Team fouls: Milton-Union 13; Bellefontaine 11.

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