SPRINGFIELD — Bellefontaine’s boys basketball team withstood every threat from Springfield Shawnee in the second half here Monday to become the only remaining unbeaten team in Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail division play.
Bellefontaine’s Matt Entsminger takes a shot during the first half of Monday’s game at Springfield Shawnee. (EXAMINER PHOTO | TONY BARRETT)
The Chiefs led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter before the host Braves rallied to climb within a point.
Bellefontaine did not buckle, though, as it came through with a gutsy fourth quarter to notch a 61-52 victory.
The Chiefs now stand atop the CBC Kenton Trail standings with a 3-0 mark. They are 6-1 overall.
Shawnee drops to 2-1 in division play and 4-2 overall.
“The guys showed a lot of resilience tonight,” said Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly. “They played with a lot of fight and a lot of heart at a place that is not easy to play at against a very good Shawnee team.”
Bellefontaine used all of its pieces to grind out the victory.
Tristin Tillman scored a game-high 20 points, Jarrod Houchin stepped up with a season-high 14 points, A.J. Gorham recorded nine points, seven assists and three steals, Caleb Mitchell contributed eight points and Daniel Boy added seven points and seven rebounds.
“It was a great team effort,” said Stolly. “Our three guards, Jarrod, Tristin and A..J., logged a lot of minutes and they gave everything they had.”
Houchin, a senior who played basketball as a freshman before taking two years off from the sport, was the sparkplug for the Chiefs all night. In addition to his 14 points, he did a stellar job on the defensive end against Shawnee’s talented backcourt.
“Jarrod is feeling more and more confident every game,” said Stolly. “He played a big defensive role tonight and he also gave us some nice scoring punch. He has been a really nice addition for us this year.”
Houchin had eight points in the first quarter to help the Chiefs take a 22-14 lead.
Bellefontaine, which never trailed, led by seven points (36-29) at halftime.
The Chiefs pushed their advantage to 10 points (43-33) with 4:56 remaining in the third quarter.
However, Shawnee responded with a 9-0 run to cut the Bellefontaine lead to one (43-42) with 1:13 left on the third-quarter clock.
A jumper by Houchin just before the buzzer allowed the Chiefs to take a three-point cushion into the final period.
Shawnee’s Jaden Greenwood hit a bucket at the start of the fourth quarter to again make it a one-point game at 45-44.
Houchin then came through with another clutch play, banking in a runner off the glass to put the Chiefs up by three.
Boy followed with a basket to give Bellefontaine a five-point advantage at the 6:21 mark.
Shawnee’s David Barnett scored inside to get the Braves within three, but Bellefontaine countered with five straight points to lead by eight (54-46) with 3:51 remaining.
The Braves made one more burst with a 4-0 spurt that whittled the Bellefontaine advantage to four points with 3:07 left.
But Bellefontaine had another answer as Tristin Tillman drilled four straight free throws, the latter two coming after a technical foul on Shawnee’s Jalen Nelson, to put the game out of reach.
“We’ve been in close games before and our guys didn’t panic,” said Stolly. “We were able to answer their runs, and that was big.”
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